According to Larry Page, Google’s chief executive, Google+ has become a robust competitor in the social networking space, with 90 million users registering since its June launch. However that number is very misleading.
While I find Google+ to be somewhat easy (and at times, fun) to use, it feels very empty. Some of that is any lack of Twitter or other auto-posting integration. I can post to Facebook via text message (which Google Plus also allows now), web browser toolbar, or hundreds of third-party applications. My blog can auto-post to Facebook when I make new posts with API configuration. Google allows none of that. To seriously use Google+, you need to be on a web browser or in the G+ Application on your smartphone. Google doesn’t feed into other sources like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other social networking sites do.
It turns out the social network is a virtual ghost town compared with the site of rival Facebook, which is preparing for a massive initial public offering. New data from research firm comScore reveal that Google+ users are signing up, but not doing much there. Visitors using personal computers spent an average of about three minutes a month on Google+ between last September and January, versus six to seven hours on Facebook each month over the same period, according to comScore, which did not have data on mobile usage. Behind the lack of engagement are Google’s difficulties in differentiating Google+ from Facebook.
When Google+ launched last year, the internet search giant positioned it as a Facebook competitor where people can share comments, articles, photos and videos with specific groups of friends and contacts. While Google+ has some original features, including “Hangouts” which let people start a video conference with up to 10 people, analysts and some consumers say the distinction is not enough to lure Facebook members away and persuade them to build a network of contacts from scratch on Google+. “Nobody wants another social network right now,” Brian Solis, an analyst at social-media advisory firm Altimeter Group said. For those who already use Facebook, “Google hasn’t communicated what the value of Google+ is,” he said.
Google executives downplay the direct comparison to Facebook, which has 845 million monthly active users. They have repeatedly said they are making a long-term bet on the initiative, and the company has yet to build up some of the weapons that made Facebook successful, including encouraging app development.
Have you played much with Google+? I was excited when the social network was unleashed to the public last year, but rarely do I use it. I find most of the time that it’s a small amount of tech writers plus presidential postings. I can find any of that from my favorite news source.