An online social network that was started in 2011, Google Plus never managed to take off the way other Google offerings did.
Most people who keep their eye on social media could be forgiven for ignoring Google Plus.In fact, the social media platform barely has any traction these days.
But why did that happen? And what features are available to Google Plus users?
When Google Plus first started, the company was reporting impressive growth numbers. Around 10 million people had joined the site within the first two weeks. When a month went by, the number stood at 25 million. Two years after its launch, Google said that it had around 540 million people on its social network Google Plus.
The issue was the lack of attention Google Plus was getting compared to other social networks. Even in 2013 and 2014, the social network was nowhere near as dominant in the social and cultural conversation as Facebook.
Lack of Engagement
The issue with Google Plus is that it was not able to get much engagement from its users. When people would sign up for a Gmail account, they would only be one or two steps away from having a Google Plus account. And many users did create that Google Plus account.
But they barely spent any time on the service. One estimate from 2012 showed that around 3.3 minutes were being spent by the average user on the site. Compare that to the whopping 7.5 hours that Facebook was getting. These are per month figures.
The engagement figure seems accurate, given the little buzz that Google Plus has been able to generate since its launch. While the network is still active, it is comfortably surpassed by the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit. Even sites such as Tumblr are a lot more popular.
Google Plus Features
Those who do enjoy using Google Plus are very happy with the features available. One of the most interesting features is the Circle function.
Circles in Google Plus
Circles allow users to have their own groupings when it comes to the people they are following. For instance, users can create a group based on categories such as entertainment, news, family, friends, colleagues and more. Then it is possible to share posts, articles and other content with specific circles.
Integration with Google Photos
One of the rare times that Google Plus did generate some positive buzz is when they integrated Google Photos with the social network. It meant that when a person was taking a picture with their Android camera, they were automatically able to upload those photos onto Google Plus.
Google Plus is an interesting case study in a social network that had all the fundamental features needed to succeed, but never managed to gain mainstream attention.
In the simplest terms, Google Plus was never cool. People never flocked to the platform or got excited about using it. Some do enjoy the platform, but they are in the minority compared to the vast number of social media users on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.