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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Google+ Uncircles All Naysayers!

Not true. I just wanted to get your attention, especially all of you Google+ naysayers. So, welcome everyone.


Ever since the launch of Google+ people have pitted it against Facebook. "Which one will win in the popularity contest? Which one is best to accomplish specific goals, like to be used for business? Which one will win the collective's heart and thus dominate the world?"  Good questions, and I don't exclude myself from this everyone number. 

Back in January 2012 I did a case study comparing engagement on the two networks, and at the time it was very telling. In that case study, Google+ vs Facebook Engagement, we took a look at just two of the same posts, at the same time, and monitored them both.  I engaged equally on both as soon as a comment was added. 

Results: Engagement on Facebook was only 4% in relation to the engagement on Google+.  Even taking into consideration that I have over twice as many "followers" on Google+ than on Facebook, that would still mean that the numbers showed a 92% to 8% advantage to Google+.  It's also noted that the comments in Google+, back in January 2012, were more substantial and conversational than the Facebook contributions of "cool" or "I like both". [See the complete January 2012 case study here ]
Snapshot of the actual posts and the comment threads count

My findings were conclusive to me that Google+ encouraged a higher level of activity, more people wanted to voice their opinions and people seemed more passionate about their responses. Since my study, countless others have conducted similar case studies or experiments trying to determine which social network is more successful. These findings varied and I've enjoyed reading each one (well, the accurate ones I did). However, a recent article caught my eye and I just HAD to give my two cents. This is a good reminder to READ CRITICALLY. 


Here is the latest 'ghostown' article questioning the success of Google+, but with a twist. The title of the article Is Google+ A Failure? [including a May 2012 infographic to make a point, which was already outdated information back in May] This was published 38 hours ago, from the timestamp of this post. Like most of these "Google+ is Dead" articles, they are based on old data and are either written or aggregated to just to stir up controversy and/or pageviews.

I'm not using this post to pick on Richard Darell of Bit Rebels, the author of the above article. He's been a good friend for a number of years now. Its just that these articles keep marching out into the web one right after another using this same inaccurate data and language to 'show' Google+ as fast approaching an epic collaps of some sort.  All of them hanging their hat on these old statistics that users spend only 3.3 minutes per month on Google+. 

The curious part all of these bloggers seem to overlook is that the actual figures, released two weeks ago, came directly from Google at I/O and were published openly for everyone to reference, here they are on TechCrunch:  http://techcrunch.com/2012/06/27/google-i-o/

Screenshots from Google I/O
From the TechCrunch article: Google+ active users spend ove60 minutes a day across Google products, and 12 minutes per day in the Google+ stream. Even if these are just highly engaged early-adopters, many of which might be Google fanboys, that’s a pretty stunning total of 360 minutes per month
*Mental reminder just popped into my mind - From my days at The New York Times Company, to maintain our integrity and trust I did learn the importance of basic things like fact checking, only using up-to-date information, and avoiding sensationalism just for a headline. These were not-affectionately called career killers. 

For comparison and fairness, here are very recent posts on Facebook. 

"The average amount of time visitors spent on Facebook rose less than 1 percent to 381 minutes in May from a month ago," ComScore said. "That came after a decline of 3.1 percent in the previous month."  In Darell's article he states that Facebook users spend 450 minutes on the site, an overstatement? Who know's for sure, right? The point is 360 minutes a month is not the same as 3.3 minutes per month

I know what some of you are thinking, "Yeah, but Facebook is still way ahead in user numbers." True, it may appear that way.  Facebook does boast larger numbers, but let's look at the bigger picture.

Facebook, a much more mature platform, has recently seen a slow decline in both the amount of time users spend on the site and the number of users on the site. A fact that Darell failed to bring to his readers' attention. 

On the contrary, Google has seen an amazing spike in both numbers of members and in engagement. 

In January 2012, Google+ had 62 Million users with an average time of around 3.3 minutes per month on the site. Google+ is now at the one year mark and sits at around 250 million users with around 100-150 million qualifying as "active." When you take the new statistics from Google I/O you see that Google has not only more than doubled their number of users in six months, but the average time on site has a percent of increase over 10,000%. That's pretty impressive growth in just six months, and it doesn't seem to be pointing in any direction that sounds like failure, floundering or extinction. If anything, Google+ use in on a dramatic upswing.
Chart use courtesy of Thomas Morffew and the results of his Google+ Survey
Taking a quick a look at Facebook as social network, it currently leads Google+ with around 900 million users, 530 qualify as active. However, as we mentioned earlier, despite its large size and popularity - the last six months have shown a slight decline in not only Facebook's users but time on site as well. Comparing this to the 10909% increase for time on site for Google+ we can see which network is on any 'real or imagined' down slide.

Additionally, we also see continued growth on Google+ in gender saturation. Women on Google+ are very active and are some of the top engagers. Google+ is anything but a 'man-cave' filled with just male Google employee's and Brittany Spears. Here is the most accurate global breakdown of the Male/Female ratio that I can find via CircleCount. (This is based on 19,070,848 Google+ profiles indexed)
Chart compliments of CircleCount.com 


If you are failing to see results on Google+, don't blame Google+. Perhaps you need to simply look in the mirror. It could be that you are just using it wrong. Charles Dowd nailed it in his article: This Is Why You Fail At Google+ - If you do these things, you will be well on your way to winning at Google+.

I certainly don't have all the definitive answers on every aspect  of G+, especially since it is just starting to really mature, is still growing and changing before our very eyes.  I am simply posting my findings and leaving the interpretation and analysis to you. I offer this for your review and I look forward to the contribution of your thoughts, and if you like this, please share it via the channels below.

Thank you for your time my friends!

With every good wish,

Tim Moore
Circle Tim on Google+: Tim Moore