Google + Is Now Almost HALF as Popular as MySpace (Yes, It Still Exists)

Quick – if you want to just blast out how awesome the new Mary Halvorson CD is, where do you go? Most likely to Twitter. And if you want to see what sorts of pictures have emerged from the weekend event your kids attended? Head to Facebook.

Once on Twitter you will likely check out a few feeds, click around for a minute or two before exiting. On Facebook, your engagement will turn from seconds to minutes to hours as you check out friends and photos and chat with folks and so on. For many teens and young adults, Facebook has replaced email.

And as the chart at the top shows, most other sites are similar to Twitter. Tumblr and Pinterest have longer engagement times due to the nature of their content. LinkedIn is for me all over the map – I go there everyday but seldom spend too much time, just checking on friends and colleagues and former colleagues. So I definitely see that having a lower engagement. MySpace I assume is more about people just saying ‘wow … thought you were dead’ rather than real numbers. And Google + …

Here is a snip from an article in the Wall Street Journal:

Google+ “does not have the same degree of vibrancy that Facebook, Twitter or even Pinterest has at the moment,” said David Cohen, an executive vice president at Universal McCann, a media buying unit of Interpublic Group of Cos. that helps big marketers spend ad dollars. “Without active engagement, it will not be as attractive to advertisers.”

Google has much at stake as it spends heavily on newspaper ads and commercials to promote Google+, including a TV spot involving The Muppets that ran during the Academy Awards. The company’s main financial goal of Google+ is to obtain personal data about users to better target ads to them across all of Google.

To some observers, the challenges Google is facing in creating a rival destination to Facebook and Twitter Inc. evokes the problems that software giant Microsoft Corp. has had in creating a rival search destination to Google search with Bing.

Facebook and Twitter helped change the way people discover new things on the Web, rivaling Google as the chief gateway to the Internet. Much of the activity on Facebook is private and can’t be accessed by Google’s search engine, making search less useful as people spend more time on Facebook.

I have been hearing people talk for months about ‘giving Google + a chance’, and also hearing Google simultaneously tout numbers and force enrollment by default (hint: those aren’t REAL numbers), and yet, in spite of following tons of people, participating in discussions, commenting and so on for months … I have yet to see anything remotely unique or useful. When I forced myself to use it I HAD to throttle back usage of Twitter and Facebook.

Yet it seemed that much of what was going on was introspection – discussions about Google + itself, or about other Google centric things. Not that some people aren’t trying to actual put useful content out. But by and large everything I read seems to have another purpose.

What is that purpose? Google search. Google has made it clear that if a page exists in Google + it will show up instead of a hugely popular non-Google + page. Therefore brands and blogs and those seeking to influence are incented to ensure their content shows up on a Google + stream – and getting more ‘+1s’ is critical to search success.

In other words, Google + isn’t about community involvement, social engagement or interchange for a large amount of users – but instead about influencing Google pagerank results.

Which makes sense when you see the abysmal enagement times for Google +. Basically people drop in and out so quickly that they amass an average of 3 minutes PER MONTH!

It is interesting, since letting my usage wander back to wherever I feel like going, my Twitter usage has increased, as has my Facebook time, and Google + is someplace I visit not even once a day anymore – less than LinkedIn. There are some great folks I like chatting with, and without them it would even be lower.

What does that mean? It means that in general no one is GETTING anything of substance from Google +. There is nothing to incent them to hang around, no natural flow of discussion or information that is engaging. Which means that over time unless that can reverse we will see Google + become a ghastly SEO pit.

What about you? Do you agree with this engagement chart? And what do you think Google needs to do with G+?

Categories: News, Rants and Raves

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2 replies

  1. Somebody (I assume a Googler) posted a series of slides explaining what G+ is. Interesting set of slides, but I still think that they need engagement for it to be useful.

  2. Well, I certainly don’t agree with this from a personal standpoint.  G+ and Twitter are the only social networks I use, the only ones I have any desire to use, the only ones that have anyone I actually desire to communicate with on them… and I’m having my doubts about Twitter lately.  And on G+ my feed rarely if ever contains introspective stuff about G+ and social networking itself.  I was prepared to hate it as much as I hate other social networks, but it turned out to be nicer than I expected, with people I actually like having in my stream.

    Sure, I have accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Tumblr but I honestly can’t tell you the last time I logged into any of them — it wasn’t in 2012, that’s for certain, and may not have been in 2011 either.  I do connect other apps to Facebook but only because for some stupid reason a few people still expect me to be there, and it’s my way of saying “well, I will never actually use this thing myself, but if you insist, here’s a feed listing every video game I play; note how much more interesting I find them than interacting with you”.
    But then, I’m an old curmudgeon who stopped being demographically relevant to “engagement surveys” and the like at least a decade or two ago, and who thinks that when the alien archaeologists sift through the ruins of our civilization, opening the Internet to the general public will be seen in hindsight as one of the worst decisions we could have made…