Seven years after its launch, Google has announced the death of its social media platform Google+. The main reason is for the closure a security breach, but low engagement is also a factor — and likely the explanation as to why Google is making no attempt to keep the platform alive.
The Security Breach
On October 8, Google announced that a security breach on Google+ had given developers the potential to access data from as many as 500,000 users. However, the breach only gave developers access to data from optional profile fields that were not marked public — like name, email address, age, and gender. It had no effect on other types of data, neither from Google+ nor from other Google services.
Google also says that there is no evidence that developers misused the data. In fact, it appears that few were even aware of the bug. Google patched the bug back in March of this year.
Despite the minor nature of the security breach, Google has decided to shut down Google+ for consumers permanently. Closing will be finalized on August 2019, which gives marketers the chance to migrate their data and remove Google+ from their social strategy.
Who This Impacts
Google released its social platform in 2011 as a competitor to big names like Facebook and Twitter. However, Google+ never came close to gain the same kind of attention. After some initial hype, it quickly drifted into background. Over the years, users shared less content and became less likely to +1 posts. In fact, in the blog post announcing the closure, Google reported that 90 percent of user sessions lasted less than five seconds.
However, the platform has been useful in helping marketers publish content and connect with potential customers. This is particularly true for brands with local audiences. There is no other social platform that plays this exact role. In fact, some people are so upset that Google+ is closing down that they’ve started a petition to save the platform. With almost a year to go until Google+ is gone forever, they believe that they still have a chance to keep it alive.
What to Do Now
With Google+ leaving us, it is more important ever to have a Google My Business account. This will allow you to maintain your presence on Google beyond search results that lead to your website. For instance, Google My Business puts you on Google Maps. It also allows you to create short posts (about promotions, products, and updates) that appear when someone searches for your business. These can both be critical for small and local businesses looking to improve their visibility.
This minor security breach should not deter you from using Google products — besides, it would be difficult to market your business without them. Google is already putting new measures into place that will give users greater control over their data, including new account permissions.