Since Google+ launched, Google has created a variety of ways to loop users into the budding social network — and then keep them there. The brand has integrated its other Web products into G+, and more and more is beginning to go its own route when it comes to tying in social content. If you are among the few who liked Social Search and wanted those tweets mixed in with search results, you’ll now notice that these have been replaced with Google+ posts — and if you want to interact with them, you’d better get on board with the Google social site.
But in comparison to Google’s new plan of attack, these were relatively timid ways to rope in users. Now, all users who want to create a new Google account will automatically be added to Google+. Say you only want to create an email address. Too bad, you are obligated to be a member of the social network as well.
Google’s redesigned the landing page for creating your new account as well, and the layout and instructions emphasize you’ll be roped in to more than one property. “Talk, chat, share, scheduled, store, organize, collaborate, discover and create,” the site says. “Use Google products from Gmail to Google+ to YouTube, view your search history, all with one username and password, all backed up all the time and easy to find at (you guessed it) Google.com.”
Google’s been criticized for doing a poor job of integrating its various Web properties, and early G+ criticism saw users begging for the ability to reach their other accounts within the site. The company deserves kudos for quickly addressing whats its new social users were asking for, and doing it relatively quickly. But in traditional platform fashion, we’re now being given an ultimatum: It’s all or nothing. It’s a really user-unfriendly way to go about things, but one that is sure to spur G+ numbers — which have been climbing regardless. Google says the social network now has 49 million users and traffic is up 55-percent.
You always need to read between the lines with reports like these, and now we’ll be forced to even more. We can imagine that plenty of new Google account holders will turn their G+ off altogether, limiting their profile entirely and keeping themselves unreachable (if that’s you, follow this link and change all the settings to “only you”). Measuring engagement is much more difficult, and while G+ registrations will likely go up because of the new requirements, what good is a well-populated site if no one wants to use it? Google+ has been fighting the label of “echo chamber,” and we can’t imagine that the new sign-up requirements are going to help it escape that label.