Google+, Google's third attempt at a social network, launched in July 201 I to great aplomb - due to demand invites ran out in a matter of days. Within weeks, pundits were praising its design and were fascinated by the circles concept allowing for more privacy across your connections. The rallying cry? At last, a challenger to Facebook has arrived!
Forward to 2012 and the popularist tide turned and Google+ was often described as an echo chamber. Google+ management quoted 300 million active users in 2013, but the savvy knew this number was driven by people logging into Google+ to use other features. The vision of Google+ as the Facebook challenger was brutally dismissed.
But let's reimagine this picture. Google+ is not, and was never intended to be, a social network - Google has much bigger plans than that. Google+ is, instead, the connective tissue that binds all of Google's disparate products together. Want to comment on a YouTube video? You can through Google+. Want to send a Gmail? You can through Google+. Want to influence your search rankings (and this is the canny one)? You can through Google+. If you want to use a Google product - Google+ is now both the key and the doorway.