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Google+: Love It or Leave It?

What began as an email exchange between JC Giraldo and me resulted in a blog series on the viability of Google+ for B2B marketers.

JC Giraldo Social Media

  • JC: “Where on G+ is all this supposed activity happening. I don’t see it in my news feed.”
  • Natascha: “I think where it’s happening is in the communities and via Google Hangouts. That’s just my personal experience, we need to dig deeper."

As we did for our popular series about The Use of Social Media around the Globe, JC and I reached out to our personal networks to find out about their experiences with G+. The first rule of marketing is never to assume that your experience is representative.

(Why) Is there an "ever-increasing number of Google+ fans,” as Google Co-Founder Larry Page put it?

Let's look at some reports to determine the reasons of G+ growth:

1. Janrain Report: Social Login Trends Across the Web Q1 2014 The graphic below illustrates how in the first quarter of 2014, Google Plus increased as a social login choice, not far behind the number one, Facebook.

Q1-2014-Login-Preferences

What are the reasons?

  • Google uses the same login credentials across their entire ecosystem of products, including YouTube, Gmail, and, yes, Google Plus.
  • Google has connected Gmail with Google Plus. (The company will scrap that mandatory integration with its other products.)

I addressed the topic of social sign-ons in my blog: Are You the Steward of Your Social Identity? The blog mentions that the use of mobile devices has accelerated the social sign-on trend.

facebook-login-mobile.jpeg

  • On mobile, G+ is used by 25 % of users as their social sign on, way behind Facebook at 64%.
  • Recently, G+ has caved and allowed the use of “fake names” for accounts. Is this an attempt to increase the numbers?

2. Jeff Bullas

According to Jeff Bullas, G+ is all about data gathering for Google. The more G+ users, the more data:

"To create a Google Plus account you need to tell them your age, location, email account and other data that reveals your likes and dislikes. We live in a digital data age that empowers us to express, publish and share. That reveals who we are and Google can use that to increase revenue and improve user experience."

In his article, 12 Awesome Social Media Facts and Statistics for 2013, Jeff provides many insights. In the interest of time, we have focused on facts #1, #5, and #6 from Jeff's report:

Fact #1

Google+ is catching up to Facebook in terms of membership. Why?

  • A Google+ account is mandatory whenever you create a new Gmail account, pushing up the G+ account ownership stats.

Social media facts figures and statistics 2013 1

  • Currently, Facebook still dominates at 70% of account ownership, but Google+ is trying hard to catch up and gaining ground.

Fact #5:

Participation in social networks among older members of the population is increasing.

Social media facts figures and statistics 2013 1

  • Social media is not just for millennials, as many assume, but permeates all age groups (Note: since parents joined Facebook, it's become less attractive to their children, so they are moving on to other networks like Instagram and Snapchat).
  • G+ has the highest attraction for the 35-44 age group, followed by the 55-64 age group. The first age group is probably made up of a high percentage of business professionals.

Fact #6.

Google+ leads in terms of monthly visits when compared to Facebook and Twitter but G+ appears to be remarkably inactive after account login. Why?

Social media facts figures and statistics 2013 1

  • While monthly visits to G+ have risen above 1 million, this activity is (at least partly) generated by visits to other Google services like Gmail that are counted into the overall number.

While G+ has the most monthly visits, this does not seem to translate into activity by members.

  • Facebook users post more updates and are generally more active than G+ users (FB has more users overall but proportionally member activity is higher).
  • Twitter has a much smaller foot print than G+ in terms of accounts and monthly visits, but comes astoundingly close in terms of overall activity and tweet updates when compared to G+.

Social media facts figures and statistics 2013 1

4. eMarketer

Daniel Marcec of eMarketer was quoted by US News: “If teens are into the ‘next big thing,’ it certainly isn’t Google Plus".

Quite a harsh verdict.

Here some stats behind this statement:

Chart showing the percentage of millennials and nonmillennials using various social networks.

Conclusion

  • In terms of numbers, Google Plus is catching up with Facebook.
  • In terms of real network activity, Google Plus lacks behind and how many accounts are active is unclear.
  • It would appear that G+ membership is currently overstated by Google, simply because G+ accounts "come with Gmail accounts".

To shine more light on the real activity on Google Plus, where the hot spots are and what active users get out of it, we have interviewed our network for the next blog in the series. Stay tuned.

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