Tech giant Google quietly announced that users would no longer need a Google+ account to log into YouTube and other Google sites as well. In addition, the site is breaking up into two components: Photos and Streams, but that’s a far cry from the integrated social platform that Google had wanted Google+ to be. Looking back, the news comes as no surprise given that Google’s answer to Facebook hasn’t exactly been a resounding success.

According to data compiled by, Google+ had 300 million active monthly users compared to Facebook’s 1.4 billion. The reality is, it’s not difficult to see why the idea has failed to live up to its promise. S. Kumar, Fortune’s tech and business commentator, lays out the biggest lessons every entrepreneur can learn from Google’s failed experiment.


Don’t sell people what they already have

Google thought it could convince millions of people to migrate to its own newborn social media site. However Google+ launched in 2011 and by that time, Facebook had already become the dominant social media platform in the world, boasting 250 million active users. At the time most analysts agreed that Google+’s future wasn’t very bright.


It’s possible Google+ could have developed a vastly superior product, but the interface was clunky and less intuitive than Facebook, the mobile app was equally uninspiring, but most of all, it lacked a critical mass of active users necessary for a complete, satisfying social media experience. People joined Google+, but interaction between users was much less robust. Facebook worked because the community was already established, large and much more active. There was a time when Facebook also had few users, but the crucial difference is that Facebook was a relatively novel concept at the time.


Don’t Create an Identity Crisis

A feature that differentiated Google+ from Facebook was its hybrid structure that allowed users to connect with their friends but also follow complete strangers who could then follow them back. Similar to Twitter, that was a good concept except for two things: Facebook added that feature shortly afterwards and it detracted from the intimacy that a friend-based social media network provides.


Twitter is mostly a medium for quickly reaching a large number of users you don’t necessarily personally know. Despite direct messaging and tweet-wars, followers aren’t really a network of true ‘friends.’  Facebook still remains primarily a social platform for users who are at least tangentially connected, offering some security and closeness. Google+ tried to meld two very distinct social media protocols and priorities, and in the process, created an identity crisis for itself. Knowing who you are will always take you the farthest.


Don’t Compromise the Flagship Product

Despite Google+ being a misfire, Google offers superior products, especially its iconic search engine that accounts for 65% of the U.S. market, according to digital measurement firm comScore. To use a search example, if you type in “Donald Trump” into Google’s engine, you may be looking for the latest news on the presidential hopeful, but what you’re definitely not looking for are personal Google+ posts about Trump. And yet that was exactly what Google served up, and not just deep inside the rankings, but on the first page.


Not only does it skew search results but effectively forces people to sign out of Google in order to be able to run a proper search. That’s annoying for users but from Google’s perspective, it’s the exact opposite of what the company is aiming for, which is to keep people inside the Google universe at all times. Given this, the company should have protected the integrity of its core product at all costs and instead, it gambled with it. The final hard driving point is if you have a successful flagship product, don’t tinker with it at the expense to promote another lesser product.