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Why I left Google Plus After Five Years and Returned to Facebook

Updated on August 6, 2016
TessSchlesinger profile image

Tessa joined Olivetti in 1975 as a WP Installation Clerk. She learnt to write machine code & continued to learn geek stuff ever after.

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?

For five years, this was my life. I'm sad to say goodbye. i guess I'll still pop in, but it won't be what it used to be.
For five years, this was my life. I'm sad to say goodbye. i guess I'll still pop in, but it won't be what it used to be. | Source

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.

My posts for creative people had lots of hits but few comments and little interaction.
My posts for creative people had lots of hits but few comments and little interaction. | Source

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.

CircleCount was always a good way of keeping track of how we were doing on Google Plus. Here you can see the fall off when google stopped circle sharing.
CircleCount was always a good way of keeping track of how we were doing on Google Plus. Here you can see the fall off when google stopped circle sharing. | Source
At one point, I was around 6500 from the top internationally.  Now I'm about 9000. That was my fault, I guess...
At one point, I was around 6500 from the top internationally. Now I'm about 9000. That was my fault, I guess... | Source

Are you in agreement with the changes made on Google Plus

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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.

So despite the extreme difference in numbers, I'm back to Facebook - with a Google Plus personality!
So despite the extreme difference in numbers, I'm back to Facebook - with a Google Plus personality! | Source

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


Submit a Comment
  • TessSchlesinger profile imageAUTHOR

    Tessa Schlesinger 

    3 years ago

    djdaniel150 Sorry, I just saw your comment now.

    I didn't join Google Plus to build an audience for my writing or to to sell anything.

    My daughter signed me up for facebook in order to make friends because I didn't know anyone in America. I hated facebook because everybody wanted to argue (discuss things) with me. I didn't get American culture at the time.

    I blocked 5000 followers because I didn't know how it was possible to speak to 5000 people. In my world, it is simple politeness to respond to people when they speak to you.

    My comment that Google Plus didn't send as much traffic my way as Facebook did didn't mean that I had used Google Plus to get traffic. I hadn't. I have never used social networking or anything else to get traffic.

    I was unaware of how much traffic I got from links posted to facebook as I had never really concerned myself with this. When I discovered this a few months ago, I thought I might as well kill two birds with one stone.

    There's nothing more for me at Google Plus. In a way, I'm done with social networking. I grew a lot as a person and I think it's fair to say that I learnt more in the 5 years at Google Plus than I did in 60 years without Google Plus.

    I never liked the Google communities, and I have no interest in making friends with people in order to sell them something. I have to be who I am and say what I think. I am a hardcore atheist, and if people don't want to read my articles or buy my books because of that, so be it. I will never sacrifice my integrity for money

    Thank you for your comment. It was fair, but I truly am done with social networking.

  • TessSchlesinger profile imageAUTHOR

    Tessa Schlesinger 

    3 years ago

    Antoni Zyngra I didn't bother to read most of what you wrote. I have no interest in nut cases, and you appear to be a nut case. Goodbye.

  • djdaniel150 profile image


    3 years ago from St Louis

    Sorry to hear that Google Plus isn't working for you the way you'd like it too. My thought is, people should focus on the platforms and audiences that work best for them. If that just so happens to be Facebook in your case, then great!

    On the other hand, why on earth would you beg people not to follow you, and block thousands more? As a writer I'd imagine you would be looking to build an audience and keep it. People often follow others not because they're connected with them, but because they like something that person has to offer. You stated you blocked 5,000 people in one go! Not exactly a good way to build an audience and keep. This seems counterintuitive to building an audience.

    Also, I agree, there's no way you can possibly be friends with, and connect with tens of thousands of people. But I'm baffled as to what made you think you feel you needed to attempt to connect with everyone who follows you in the first place?

    As for the issue with trolls, I've honestly rarely been attacked by them in the 4 years and over 460 pages of content I published and promoted their in that time span. In fact, I've had over a quarter million Google Plus shares over the last 4 years just from my main website, not including the shares that originated on Google+, and I can count on 2 hands how many people actually criticized me.

    I honestly think its not Google+ that's broken, but rather your approach to using it. After viewing your profile, it seems you share a lot of posts publicly, and you post to collections, etc, but you're not making good use of communities, which is where people often hangout on G+.

    While I admit G+ has slowed down over the years, I still get a 100 G+ shares on average for a single article I publish, but I make use of the communities on the network as a place to promote my content and ideas, rather than just sharing with my own followers.

    I think in your case, your activities are centered around more controversial subjects, and maybe this is the reason why you were attacked by trolls? I noticed you shared a post about Malania Trump and the controversy over her being a one time prostitute. You stated, wouldn't it be strange to have a first lady who used to be a hooker?

    My answer, no, not really. Its the world's oldest profession, and the only reason its illegal in America is because it transfers large amounts of wealth directly from the rich to the poor, something the conservatives don't want. It's funny how people have sex everyday, but as soon as there's a dollar involved all of a sudden its a crime and something a portion of society frowns upon.

    The fact is, Americans, and many countries have been fashioned by their political leaders and governmental powers to believe certain things are bad or wrong, and prostitution is one of them. While I love a fair argument, making such posts around sensitive topics as this is likely to bring out trolls. The difference between me and them is, I can express my argument while being respectful of others ideas, including yours.

    Either way, I'm glad to hear you haven't given up on Google+ completely, and if Facebook works for you, then it makes sense to focus more of your efforts there.

    I also noticed you stated in your banner on G+ that you "Write for Atheists, Humanists, and Progressives. Again these are often sensitive subjects, especially the Atheism one. On the other hand, we just so happen to own a community centered upon Progressives, and maybe if you spent some time moderating communities, it would help to bring you more readers as you so desired. Now, its been 2 years since the last time I saw the community, I cant even remember the name, just that we have it. If you'd be interested in checking it out, let me know, and I will contact the co-owner to get the link and share it with you.

    We own a lot of communities on G+, some with hundreds of thousands of members, so its hard to keep track of whats what at times. I dont manage all of them either.

    Moderating also helps to solidify your authority surrounding your subject matter, and it can improve your organic rank. Anyway, I'm all for helping a fellow writer, and I wish you the best of luck Tessa!


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