Google+ is about to undergo some changes, as 8-year veteran Vic Gundotra is leaving the company.
Executives move on to new opportunities all the time. But Gundotra’s departure has resulted in plenty of speculation about the future of Google’s social network—including whether it’s about to be killed off.
The news has marketers asking questions. We don’t have all the answers, but here are some of the things marketers need to know as the platform shifts…again.
1. Introducing Dave Besbris
Replacing Gundotra is David Besbris, Vice President of Engineering at Google, described by some Googlers as as “Vic’s right-hand man.”
Besbris was hired by Google in 2008 after founding another company, NearCircle LLC, and spent nearly 10 years at AOL as Senior Technical Director.
It seems like he’s an appraised appointment as Gundotra’s successor.
Yonatan Zunger, Chief Architect in the Google+ team, said Besbris is ”an amazing leader: someone who profoundly understands the subtleties of social, of apps, of engineering, of product, and of how to run an organization,” as reported here.
We’ll give that a +1.
But the departure of Gundotra has stirred rumors across the digital marketing landscape that Google+ is near-dead, and it has thrown the future of the “never-quite-viable social network” into question by marketers.
- Will Google+ continue to be an important part of a business content strategy?
- Should I continue to invest marketing budget, time, or energy into G+, and how much, and what benefits will it provide me?
- Do I need to click +1 anymore?
…are likely being considered by marketing strategists and social media specialists across the globe.
2. Besbris Is a Photographer
A little stalking of his public G+ profile reveals Besbris’ love for photography. He posts macro-style photography regularly, and gives props to beautiful imagery throughout his profile.
This is interesting because as Google shifts G+ away from a product and into more of a platform, several sources believe Google images will be one of the primary marketing features to survive the new Google structure.
Image features likely to weather the G+ shakeup and continue to be marketing tools include: the 1-click image integration between Google+ images and Gmail, and the “Auto Awesome” feature which can detect photos taken in quick succession to create animated gifs.
Here’s one of Besbris’ recent Auto Awesome .gifs.
3. Google’s Defense of Google Hangouts and Photos
TechCrunch reported that a Google representative adamantly defended Google+ position as a big social media player.
“Today’s news has no impact on our Google+ strategy—we have an incredibly talented team that will continue to build great user experiences across Google+, Hangouts, and Photos.”
Despite the shuffle of over 1,000 G+ employees who are dispersing across various Google campuses—primarily into mobile and Chrome departments—Besbris’ appointment and Google’s statement suggest something similar to Google+ will likely live on.
4. There’s Marketing Value in Google , If the Shoe Fits
Really, the announcement is unlikely to cause a major earthquake in most marketing strategies.
Every time there’s a big social media announcement, ripples of turbulence are shot into the business world, as marketers feverishly read “new best practices” and re-shape their strategies and budgets in response to the news.
Lee Odden, CEO at TopRank Online Marketing, says the new Google+ should be approached in the same way all online, digital, and social platforms are approached.
“Like many tools, Google+ is what you make of it. For some that means hangouts and video creation for cross-posting to YouTube will be the most useful. For others, it means being able to share content and send messages directly to curated Circles of target audiences will prove the most useful. SEOs will be Google+ fans as long as Authorship enhances search results with author avatars and links get crawled from Google+ shares to their websites,” Odden said in an email to Kapost.
In reality, despite G+’s relative flop as a social media giant, Google is huge. Will Google+ be a place you want to post an update? Maybe. But will Google+ live on whether it’s considered a social media platform, or not? Absolutely.