Google continues to talk up Google+ and its march forward to become whatever it is that it is supposed to become (Leading social network? Connecting hub for Google services? Both? Neither?). Experian has released some data about the number of US visits to the search giant’s social play. This data, combined with information provided last week by Google CEO Larry Page is interesting as well as confusing.
CNET reports on Page’s claims
Google CEO Larry Page, by the way, claimed yesterday that Google+ has well over 100 million “active” users, though he didn’t define what “active” is supposed to mean in this context. ComScore recently reported that Google+ users spent just 3.3 minutes a month on the site in January.
and Experian’s numbers
Google+ may be a ways off — a long ways off — from unseating Facebook, but it’s not exactly a ghost town, either. U.S. visits to Google’s still fledgling social network exceeded 61 million in March, up 27 percent from February.
and the reality of Facebook (who has supposedly seen a 15% drop in US visits in the past year not including mobile data which means that Facebook has lost more traffic that Google+ has in total but no one has really noticed!)
While this won’t exactly surprise anyone, Google+ also remains way behind Facebook. Experian Hitwise says Facebook’s U.S. visits in March totaled 7 billion — more than a hundred times what Google+ saw.
So what’s it all mean? That’s a great question because numbers like these tell us about people going to the sites but say little about what they do while at the site. If the time spent number from January is accurate (Google thinks not) then there isn’t much happening in visits to the Plus. Is that the real story?
Do these kinds of reports and numbers help marketers much? Total numbers have little to do with engagement and true success in the social space. Sure it’s nice to know that there are a lot of people at one place of the other but what marketers need to know is are the RIGHT people there for them? Are their prospects and customers there?
I think the jury is still out on Google+ and I am not sure why I feel that way. I have spoken to plenty of people who don’t think it is a serious contender for much of anything in the face of Facebook. My question is not so much about it being a Facebook competitor (at least not directly) but more of a Google enabler. Along those lines I really believe that Google has gone about promoting the service in a horrible manner. Advertising will not be enough. Organic adoption rates won’t be fast enough.
What they need to do is hit the streets. Educate the SMB as to what they can do with Google+. If they get excited then they, the SMB, can promote their presence to their customers who will then have to look at Google+ at least to find out some information about businesses they like. The idea that people will come just because Google created is A) arrogant B) misguided and C) a little naive (I had a much more critical word there originally but decided to play nice).
So how do you feel about Google+. Is there anything there? Is there hope? Do you care?