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.
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?