Google+ is closing April 2, 2019. No surprise to those of us still being spammed by memories from the ghost of Google+ Pages past. So why even bring it up? 4 Words – G+ WordPress Plugin Integrations (Or is that 5 words?).
Where have all the G+ Icons gone?
WPMU DEV had many plugins with Google+ integrations. So, we pause to acknowledging the final curtain in the Google+ life cycle and take a moment to say goodbye to the G+ icons scattered throughout our plugins.
What Went Wrong?
If you’re wanting to read about why Google+ was a bad idea poorly executed, well, just Google “Google+” and you will be treated to more than enough diatribes about why this platform was an eight-year non-starter.
But as for our WordPress blog, we’ll stick with the impact Google+ and its API has had on WordPress, our plugins, and our members. Or rather, Google+ within the context of WordPress.
WordPress and Google+
We all know, curated social media helps keep reader eyeballs on a publisher’s content. Google+ tried to be that curated social media account for content producers. And, in theory, it worked rather well. Google+ and WordPress played well together.
Google+ Pages were like Facebook Pages, but without all of the Facebook noise. They were billed as destinations for published content on the web, where readers could find quality content from the publishers they choose.
We at WPMU DEV supported Google’s goal by creating free plugins that let WordPress users capitalize on every part of their open API. With a few clicks and a Google tracking code in your WordPress header you were up and running – +1 buttons (basically the Facebook like button), easy sharing, automated feed of Google+ activity on your site, share from your page or profile, activity feed import, and Google+ account sync for all your users.
Our most notable plugins with Google+ integrations included:
The bonus was that, thanks to that Google tracking code, Google would track +1 clicks and, in theory, improve your site’s ranking in search.
Trouble is, not nearly enough readers actually used Google+, which launched its Pages feature a year or so after Facebook Pages began taking hold.
That Doesn’t Sound So Bad
Many predicted the networks demise in the early days, but the nail in the coffin was a bug exposing hundreds of thousands of users private data.
“Our Google+ APIs, and the associated controls for consumers, are challenging to develop and maintain. Underlining this… we discovered a bug in one of the Google+ People APIs.”
To summarize, “A lot of risk, no reward, and we screwed up” (paraphrased, of course).
What’s the Alternative?
How, then, do WordPress publishers achieve the vision of a Google+-like curated social media account that integrates with a blog?
- you meet readers where they are, rather than requiring them to log into a specific platform.
- you use a content publishing dashboard.
I am sure you’ve heard of at least one of these:
These are the three leading content publishing dashboards that let you send the same post to each of your social media accounts in whatever custom, directed way you choose. Hootsuite–the granddaddy of them all–launched in 2008, a full three years before Google+.
Although these dashboards only recently added integration with self-hosted WordPress sites, they beat Google+ for content curation because they embraced the concept the WordPress community holds dear: democratization.
Readers don’t appreciate being told which service to use, so content publishing dashboards push content to all services.
The conversation is moving, and as experts, we need to understand where our audience is talking and join the discussion. (For a broader look at WordPress’s role in the democratization of publishing, check out the “Hello, WordPress!” episode of our Hello, WP podcast!)
And so, we bid adieu to Google+, an attempt by the King of Search to force users to stay on its platform, rather than let users go where they want, and just track their usage along the way.
We love you Google, just the way you are, without a fancy social network. As a parting gift, we’ve donated the wordpress.org/plugins/google URL to Google in hopes they will use it to continue their support of the WordPress community with a quality Google tool that focuses on what they do best… delivering quality search and analytic tools that make the web a better place for everyone.