This week Google announced something most of us already knew: nobody is using Google+. At least, consumers aren’t spending any time there. While we’ve consistently advocated for having a public-facing business presence on Google+, we never saw much return on our investment there. It simply became a sort of “elephant in the room” in the social landscape; we knew it was there. We just didn’t talk about it, or to it.
Google is finally putting the elephant out to pasture (that’s where retired elephants go, right?) as they announced on Monday the beginning of the sunsetting process for Google+. The final nail in the awkward coffin? A security bug in one of the Google+ People APIs, which apparently remained unresolved for nearly three years, and was still undisclosed to the public once it was finally patched last spring. While Google maintains that the bug only allowed access to a select set of fairly-innocuous, optionally-added user information, the collective internet—predictably—kind of freaked out.
What This Means For You
- Depending on your Google+ privacy settings, profile data that you may have shared with friends, but not publicly, may have been accessed without your permission.
- Google maintains that the scope of the bug was limited to basic information like name, gender, occupation, and email address. You can see the full list here.
- According to Google, the bug did not allow access to your full Google account, posts, messages, or phone numbers.
- You can review your profile information at aboutme.google.com. This affects all Google services, not just Google+.
What This Means For Your Business
- Your business’ Google+ page IS still currently active, and will be for the next few months.
- The process of dismantling Google+ is expected to take about ten months, so you have some time to redirect your followers to your other social channels.
- This would be a great time to take a closer look at your Google My Business page if you haven’t already. Setup is free, and the information you include there displays when people search for you on Google.
What Happens Next
Fortunately for users and businesses, sunsetting will take some time. Google expects to complete the process sometime next spring. If you have information you’d like to preserve on your profile, you can save your data using Google Takeout. Or if you’d like to beat Google to the punch, you can delete your profile here.
As a business owner, my first thought was, “Well, guess I can get rid of that G+ icon on my website!” If Google+ is among the social channels represented on your website, be sure to remove G+ logos and links. If you’re using social sharing tools for your blog posts, be sure to deactivate connectivity to Google+.
While the consumer side of Google+ is shutting down, the service will remain active for Enterprise customers. This means that if your company uses Google+ for internal communication, you’ll be able to continue doing so. Enterprise is one of the business solutions available with G Suite, a collection of cloud-based productivity tools which we highly recommend.
Though activity on Google+ was mostly low, a number of dedicated users are looking for the next alternative. Disenfranchised with behemoths like Facebook and Twitter, they’re currently investigating smaller platforms like Mastodon, MeWe, and Pluspora. Is the demise of Google+ creating a void in your social landscape? We’d ask you to join the conversation on our G+ page but…well, you know.