Commentary

Do You Use Google+?

Either Google+ is growing by leaps and bounds, or it is a deserted “ghost town” -- take your pick. Actually the truth may lie somewhere in between these statements, which form the extremes of opinion about Google’s new social media platform.

 

Google+ launched last year and has built up a membership base of tens of millions of people, who however apparently never visit or do anything on the site. The “Google+ is growing” side is best represented by, surprise, Google: according to figures disclosed in January by CEO Larry Page, who said Google+ had attracted 90 million registered users. That’s up from 40 million users in the first half of October -- an impressive growth curve, by any measure; indeed, Ancestry.com’s Paul Allen predicted it could have 400 million members by the end of this year.

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But do these masses actually visit or do anything on the site?  An article published today by the Wall Street Journal throws a big bucket of cold water on Google+  boosters, saying data from comScore shows Google+ is a “virtual ghost town,” with users “signing up -- but then not doing much there.” According to the comScore figures, PC users who visited Google+ spent an average of three minutes per month -- that’s per month, not per day -- on the site from September to January.

 

A Google spokesperson responded to the WSJ article with a typically opaque statement to the effect that the comScore data is “dramatically lower” than Google’s own data. Assuming that this wasn’t intended to call comScore’s basic methodology into question, I would speculate the big difference must be due to different definitions of user activity. For example, Google might count a person as visiting Google+ if they have a Google+ page open in the background of their browser or remain signed in while using other Google apps, while comScore only counts periods of activity on the actual Google+ profile.  If this is the case then I am going with comScore. Otherwise I’m not sure what might explain the disparity.  Any thoughts?

 

Since there seems to be a very wide range of opinion about Google+ usage stats, I’ve decided to take my own poll. So, dear readers, do you use Google+?  How often do you use it?  And what do you think of the WSJ’s “ghost town” characterization?  Is it fair or overstated?

5 comments about "Do You Use Google+?".
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  1. Curtis Bahr from TBWA/Chiat/Day, February 28, 2012 at 1:44 p.m.

    I'm in and out all day. The photographer community has really embraced G+ so I find myself sharing photos and comments throughout the day.
    It helps that since I use a variety of other Google products for work & play, I'm almost always logged in.

  2. Ted Utz from SocialTyze, February 28, 2012 at 2:08 p.m.

    I sell Social media for a living on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Four Square, etc. I have over 1,000 friends and spend a lot of time on Facebook, daily. I have a Google+ account and haven't been there in two months. I find the entire experience to be difficult and frustrating. Why bother? My vote...Ghost Town!

  3. John Jainschigg from World2Worlds, Inc., February 28, 2012 at 2:27 p.m.

    Me too (though I had to re-sort my G+ groups to make sure I wasn't constantly bombarded by gorgeous digital photos - see below, the output of Trey Ratcliff alone could swamp a hard-drive - but could review them asynchronously, at leisure).

    The question of whether comScore's and Google's metrics differ is certainly germane, as you suggest. But this line of inquiry rushes by the question of "what kind of social network is actually beneficial?"

    For the time being, I think G+ is still enjoying being the place to which all the smart kids jumped when FaceBook went mainstream and your Mom got a page there. But it's also true that Google has engineered G+ to be more of what a certain (important) part of the population wants a social network to be: which is a place where connections are more-consciously shopped for value, where groups are arranged for topicality and readability, and where posts and exchanges are more-consciously and efficiently consumed, spectated, and participated in than on Facebook.

    In that light, it's not surprising that G+ duration-of-engagement numbers are low. Low is where they should be if people are exchanging insight and wisdom, as opposed to lunch menus and prom-date post-show wrapups. Nor should this ultimately affect the monetizability of G+, since as Curtis notes, Google's play is about giving people a lot of tools they live in all day long.

  4. Sean Grace from Strategic Franchising, February 28, 2012 at 3:53 p.m.

    I can only speak for myself, of course. But, I use G+ as my primary social network (as a user), and I love it. I have more than enough people to engage in meaningful conversations and share content with on a daily basis. As for the photography enthusiasts mentioned above, take a look at the photo editing capabilities on G+. You won't find those on any other social network.

  5. Roy Dahl from RoDa, February 28, 2012 at 6:55 p.m.

    Yes i use G+ daily. I use it communicating and sharing pictures with my sons and my friends. I also subscribe to certain news, especially regarding android. G+ is a better way to have the owner's right to your pictures opposed to Facebook where you give the owner's right for you picures to Facebook. Google Calendar and Documents are also apps I use daily.
    And so far this is your only comment from Norway. Yippie :-)

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