Why I left Google Plus After Five Years and Returned to Facebook
My History on Google Plus
Five years ago I hated facebook with a passion. The constant ads, the cramped interface, the trolling – it didn’t work for me. I knew someone else would eventually start another social networking site, and eventually Google did. On day one, I asked everybody I knew if they had received an invitation, and eventually within those first 24 hours I received an invitation and signed up.
Google Plus taught me a tremendous amount – about social networking, about people, about the world. The first influx were nerds, techies, media, geeks, intellectuals of one sort or another. They were informed and they were moving, and to a large extent, that is the core of Google Plus today. That said, in the beginning, there were different tools to the one’s that are there today, and expansion was rapid. It would be fair to say that if one was inclined, getting a million followers in a year was not inconceivable. Some did it. Others did half a million followers. But most did somewhere between 2000 and 20,000 over the first year.
I was completely overwhelmed and I battled with social networking because I did not understand the desire for followers. I did not understand the materialism. I did not understand a lot of things. I was, I suppose, the product of a small school, a small city, and a small country. At the time, I was still struggling with American culture (which is different to any other culture in the world), and I wasn’t doing too well.
It took me two years to understand what was going on. During that time, at one point, I ‘unfriended’ or ‘blocked’ 5000 people at one go, begged for people to stop following me, or more. I simply didn’t get it. There was no way on earth I could be friends with 5000 or 6000 people.
And the trolling. I was called every name under the sun – much like my experience on hubpages which made me leave (under the name of Sophia Angelique). Trolling is predominantly an American cultural response by nasty people to rational, educated people. And, yes, research has indicated that people who troll really are nasty people!
Somewhere around my third year, I realized that the only way to deal with trolls was to block them. And from that day on, social networking became a pleasure.
I made many friends on Google Plus, seldom, if ever went to facebook, and without any effort on my part, over a period of time, I build up to somewhere between 26,000 and 31,000 followers without trying. My purpose was never to build up followers, and likewise, over a period of time, I varied between 600,000 and 1 million views per month.
So why give it up?
Google Photos and Google Drive: What a mess!
Possibly the worst change that Google Plus ever made was to dump the photographs we posted into our collection of personal photographs. All my personal photos that I have stored on Google Drive or Google Photos are now mixed up with the artwork which I use on Google Plus. When I do photos for Google Plus, it is not something I want to keep. In fact, once I have posted it, I delete it from my laptop, and have no need for it again. I’m posting photos from the news media, sharing from others, and designing artwork (photoshop, illustrator, etc.) and it’s solely meant for Google Plus on a once-off.
A few days ago, I needed some photos and I couldn’t find them on my laptop or any of the 32 gig flash drives I use. I went into Google Photos and found them. Downloading them was a nightmare. Eventually I discovered that I would have to download 28,000 photos which would take me 50 to 60 hours, and that 70% was the unwanted artwork and photos meant only for Google Plus.
Google Plus, in its wisdom, decided that anything posted on it, should be saved into our personal photo files. Well, as I am never going to have what it takes to spend weeks deleting 70% of the downloaded material, to all intents and purposes, I have lost my personal photos.
I am extremely angry with the idiots on Google Plus to whom it obviously didn’t occur that some of us do NOT want to mix our personal photos with news shots we post on social networking sites.
The bottom line here? I cannot go on posting on Google Plus if I want to use Google Drive or Google Photos.
Google Plus has changed focus from people to interests
Living in another country
I relocated back to South Africa nearly a year ago. Since then, my reach on Google Plus has disappeared. Google Plus doesn’t seem to think my posts from South Africa merits the same reach that my posts from America did. So I’m reaching fewer and fewer people. I find that the people who are adding me are from Africa and Asia – not really my demographic. I’m very much a first world person.
Limited Reach as a Writer
Fundamentally I am a writer. If I am not read, I do not get paid. Here’s the funny thing. Despite my having very few friends and followers on facebook, and having massive numbers on Google Plus, if I have one person read an article on Google Plus, it’s a lot. Yet my posts get shared and they travel on facebook. Analytics shows me that my traffic is coming from facebook, not from Google Plus.
Certainly people comment on my articles on Google Plus, but I know that they haven’t read the article because if I go to the stats, I can see that only one or two people have visited.
Again, as my income is dependent on people reading my articles, I need to focus on where my articles are read, and that is facebook.
That said, it’s possible that as someone who has a high number of followers on Google Plus, that it has increased my PR ranking or something akin to that. I’ not sure. Certainly, while some of my articles get into the SERPS, most don’t.
Are There Really Only 3 Million Active Users on Google Plus?
There have been a lot of articles about Google dying. Certainly Google has tried many things, including (for a short while) forcing youtube members to be part of Google Plus. However, you can lead a horse to the water but you can’t make it drink. It was an unpleasant interlude. Google Plus is also downsizing. It has removed photos and hangouts and circle shares and much more. The problem is that it just isn’t the Google Plus I joined more than 5 years ago. And it’s no longer working for me.
I also recently read that there were only 3 million active users on Google Plus. That may well be. Despite the fact that I have between 26,000 and 31,000 followers (depending on which site), most of them are inactive.
Google Plus isn’t growing. It’s dissolving. I’ve put a lot of work into it, taken a lot of learning, experience, and joy from it, but it’s time for me to say goodbye.
Are you in agreement with the changes made on Google Plus
The Loss of Friends
I never thought it possible to make friends through social networking, but I have. I have truly made wonderful, wonderful friends on Google Plus. I value them deeply. Certainly, as with all friendships, there are degrees of depth, but some of them I’ve met through HIRLs (Hook up in real time) and some of them – well, we have just communicated so much and so meaningfully that it would be a case of complete denial if I didn’t acknowledge that I accepted them and loved and cared for them in the same way as I did my real life friends. Certainly, if I’m anywhere in their neighbourhood, we will be meeting for coffee, hugging, and swopping war stories.
Back to Facebook
I’ve changed. That change has been the result of many things, but I have most definitely changed. As a result of that change, I am better able to deal with trolls, am not overwhelmed by numbers, have become more affectionate, understanding, giving, and certainly massively more knowledgeable about many things.
I no longer see facebook the way I used to. That said, facebook is no more the same facebook it was five years ago than Google Plus is the same Google Plus it was five years ago. However, whereas Google Plus has become less user friendly and offers less, facebook has added increasingly to its value.
Certainly, there are probably privacy issues with facebook. But when one is on the web, there is no privacy anyway. We are all kidding ourselves. And, yes, there isn’t a dominance of progressives, atheists, intellectuals, nerds, geeks, and suchlike on facebook. But guess what? They’re there. And there is absolutely no reason why one cannot pick and chose the demographic one would like to have.
As a result of the extensive knowledge I have learnt about social networking on Google Plus, I am now in a better position to transform my facebook experience to be in line with Google Plus.
Consequently, I have asked those in my Google Plus Circles to add me on facebook if they have a facebook account (many don’t, and I decry the loss). Others have Twitter accounts, and I have added them there.
I won’t close my Google Plus account, of course. From time to time I will be visiting. And who knows, perhaps down the road, there will be changes to Google Plus and it will once more draw people. So far, however, most people I speak to in real life tell me that they tried Google Plus but it was difficult…
So with a heavy heart, I have decided to focus on facebook where I find that I am enjoying interaction on a much more personal level, and where I truly enjoy some of the features.
© 2016 Tessa Schlesinger