Will Google+ Survive Without Its Leader?

Will Google+ Survive Without Its Leader?

Google exec Vic Gundotra is the force behind Google’s massive social media experiment, Google+. He helped guide its development, personally led the team behind it, and had overseen Google Plus since the day it launched.

And now he’s leaving.

In the several weeks since Gundotra announced his departure in a touching Plus post, much Internet ink has been spilled over the implications. Many fear that Google Plus is going to see its downfall without its fearless leader, with TechCrunch pundits even saying the social network is “walking dead” and about to get the axe.

There are some good reasons for the speculation. Google so far has not named a successor to Gundotra, leaving the entire program in an awkward limbo. And so far Plus has failed at what many outsiders saw as its core mission: to challenge Facebook as people’s go-to social platform.

But at EverSpark we don’t think Plus will be disappearing anytime soon. To us it seems unlikely for several reasons:

  • It’s a popular service
  • It’s still early in its lifecycle for a social network
  • Google execs are still using it—and publicly praising it

But the biggest reason is somewhat more subtle. It’s that Plus is central not just to 300 million users’ social lives, but to a much bigger cross-section of how Google works.

Google Plus is arguably the only social network that has a direct line into a search engine algorithm. When you “+1” something, you don’t just signal to friends that it’s worth reading—you actually give more credence to that content in Google’s eyes. And in recent algorithm upgrades, Google has only given greater weight to social. They’re not looking to downsize their own in-house version of a growing web traffic driver.

Despite its similar layout and functionality, Google has always said that Plus is not meant to be the next Facebook. It’s a different sort of platform and its key function for the search giant was to finally integrate social and search. Now that they’ve done that, they’re probably not ready to kill it.

We would definitely expect big changes at Plus, as with any change in leadership. There really is no reason, for example, to keep Hangouts embedded in Plus. It should be its own app. And it’s pointless to automatically give a Plus account to every Gmail enrollee, when most of them either don’t want it or don’t even know what it is. Splitting Plus off from other Google products is a logical next step.

But don’t go mourning your Plus account just yet. It’s probably here to stay.

Talk to EverSpark today about integrating your Google+ account with your website using the rel=“author” code for an adding rankings boost.