The simplicity of it as a platform on which to write has always been the primary reason why I previously enjoyed using Google+.
Without the bangs and whistles more commonly associated with Content Management Systems Google+ affords those who literally want a blank canvas minus an array of fonts, and picture options. That is not to decry the more sophisticated platforms out there, but being grist to the mill for your own projects allows the writer to tailor his output to the purpose for which it was originally intended, as well as its target audience. There is also the added bonus of posts published on Google+ potentially ranking highly on its eponymous search engine.
Despite being as far from the forensic heft work that Google Analytics undertakes on behalf of your website – subject to you linking both together – users of Google+ are able in a very limited way to monitor, subject to a 48 hour lag in data being updated, how many views their profile has received. As I have never had any desire to delve into the segmentation of my readers, or those simply too nosy for their own good, I am unsure if Google+ can be linked to Google Analytics and have never endeavoured to find out. I am though able to more closely monitor location and reach on platforms that give a discernible professional edge to my writing.
Google+ therefore had much in its favour for my raison d’etre and metier, although I wouldn’t recommend it as your sole publishing platform. Sadly, it isn’t immune from the myriad negatives ascribed to the internet; the modern take on the “Nigerian Prince” scams of yesteryear do occasionally crop up, as do those who follow users, in the social media sense, with a carpet-bomb mentality without having actually read one’s profile or output. These ‘quid pro quo’ types fully expect you to follow them back – for their own agendas. The obvious lack of security for writing on Google+ is also a negative. I am unaware of there being a way of locking content and attached photographs, although that isn’t to say it is impossible. Without undertaking the onerous task of blocking undesirables and those with no right to be stalking you in a cyber sense for your content or otherwise, the limitations of Google+ become more evident.
As an account comes as a default ‘privilege’ on signing up to Gmail it is entirely reasonable for those analysing the metrics of how many social media accounts exist on the various platforms to attest that Google+ is one of the most popular out there. How many though, in reality, would actually open a Google+ account if it didn’t come as standard with a Gmail address? Indeed, how many actually know that it comes as part of the package, and are otherwise ignorant to a Google+ account legitimately existing in their name? Whilst I have found some personal merit in using Google+ for my writing, in a world where there needs to be a tangible reason for everything to justify its existence, I am somewhat at a loss as to what Google themselves eventually intend to do with their platform, and indeed, what their thinking was in the first place during those nascent days of its creation.
Having now dealt with a moron too far who use Google+ as a vehicle to peddle his/her own nefarious schemes through making contact via the comment section, I have now decided to fall on my sword and work, muse, posit and post my work elsewhere. Where? That isn’t important; if it is fundamental to my career for you to be told, I would already have done so.
Several years ago I ironically vacated an extremely well-known writing platform because of spammers, although my reach and readership showed fantastic numbers. That though became the point: quantity never equated to quality and in the end, security issues and the motives of those reading my content became more of a concern than on what my next piece of writing would be about. Google+ became an easy if somewhat lazy alternative for which I didn’t have to subscribe or pay hosting charges but it isn’t, as far as I can see, an end in itself for anybody wishing to harness the power of social media and the internet in general for their own bonafide reasons. Simplification can often be less than the sum of its few parts, and so it has proven. I would though like to think that anyone who runs their life and business through social media wouldn’t solely rely upon Google+ to position themselves in what is a very crowded marketplace.
What, if anything, Google decides to do with its “+” will be intriguing. It may not know itself but nevertheless be loathe to remove its presence from the social media stratum that its household name platform, YouTube, doesn’t accommodate. When someone who understands the so-called purposes of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (but justifiably fails to ‘get’ Pinterest) asks what exactly is Google+, therein ultimately lies the problem. Even those who use it might struggle to define, and therefore justify its existence. In an internet age that demands of its denizens jostling for attention a tangible reason for being, further financially costly development of Google+ might in the end give way to something more in line with managed decline. Whether though that is already an ongoing process could be open to interpretation. We shall see.
Thanks for the memories, Google+, but I cannot help but feel that you are the social media equivalent of Rudin, Turgenev’s superfluous man.