The end for Google Plus has finally come.  The social media platform will officially be shutting down on April 2nd due to low usage and certain ongoing security concerns.  In the end, expectations for the social site simply weren’t met, and so the decision was made for a complete shutdown.  What exactly does the end mean for brands and marketers who still use it, and how can you prepare?

This upcoming change means that all Google+ accounts and pages will be completely deleted.  Of course, this means that all of that content you worked so hard to create will also be deleted.  But, there are still actions you can take to preserve everything. While photos and videos will be backed up to Google Photos, you will need to follow a few steps to maintain possession of all other original content before it disappears.  Here’s what you’ll need to do to secure your profile:

Check Security – While Google+ is in the process of shutting down, you’re still going to want to make sure your profile is secure.  The steps you should take include:

  1. Adding and/or updating account recovery options
  2. Enabling 2-step verification
  3. Removing unnecessary app access
  4. Reviewing and controlling which apps can access your profile data using the Security Checkup tool
  5. Updating your browser, operating system and apps
  6. Removing unnecessary extensions
  7. Creating and updating passwords

Download and Save – For those who have used Google+ as another social platform to market their brand and business, who have shared posts on the platform and made valuable connections over the years, you’re going to want to save all of that data.  And, fortunately, Google has provided several options for you to do so before the shutdown. First, you have the option to download all of your data, including Streams, Circles, Communities, and more. To do this, all you need to do is go to the Download your data page, and you’ll find a screen with pre-selected data that will be created into an archive file.  They give you the option of different delivery methods where the download link can be sent. Then, you have the option of downloading specific data, like photos and posts if you don’t want to save everything. For this, you can narrow down your selection by deselecting data categories that you don’t wish to save. From there, again, you simply choose the type of file you want, the size, and the delivery method.         

Update Your Social Marketing Strategy – Before all is said and done, you’ll want to take a moment to update your social strategy.  Even if Google+ only played a small role in your overall reach, you still need to address the necessary adjustments so that everyone on your team remains on the same page.  Some things you’ll want to remember to update include, removing Google+ share buttons from all websites and blog posts (and don’t forget to do the same for your clients), replicating successful customer communication habits specific to the Google+ platform on other major social channels, making sure important business information (e.g. contact info, operating hours, etc.) is made available on other social platforms, and encouraging your Google+ Communities and networks to follow you and continue to engage with you through other social platforms.  Just don’t forget to download your community metadata!

Though Google+ certainly wasn’t a major social player, it will nonetheless be missed among those who used the platform to further connect with their audiences and expand their brand.  It’s time to say goodbye, however. So, gather your content and data, quickly, as it’s time to look ahead to all of the other fantastic sites and opportunities that remain available for you to employ a successful marketing strategy.