When it comes to Google+, it seems like you either love it or hate it. Some people have really embraced it and others have totally ignored it or took it for a spin and never came back.
But what’s the situation for Google+ today? We seem to get a lot of information about how other platforms like Pinterest are doing but Google+ is always a little mysterious.
There are 3 recent events that will give you a better idea. Most importantly, it can help you make a decision on whether or not you or your business should include the platform in your social media strategy.
1 – Growth
Larry Page recently announced Google+ has reached the 100 million active user mark.
There are 2 different points of view here. On one hand counting number of users seems to be how we measure success for a social network. It’s not, at least not the only element to consider. But on the other hand, the number of active users is at least telling you that there is an audience, there is a market to tap. This is what concerns you.
100 million users is not a small number. People underestimate this number because 1) It’s Google, they already own the Internet and 2) Facebook has 1 billion users, even if statistics point at a much faster rate, people still like to compare.
2 – Forced Users
The idea of forcing Google+ to its users through other products is something that has generated some controversy in the social web. For example, when you create a Google account, you automatically get a Gmail account and a Google+ profile.
Then you have the integration into other products, which sounds like the natural process to follow. The problem is that it is creating some discomfort in people. Wil Wheaton wrote about the Google+ Like button replacing the Thumbs Up on YouTube and how the user is being pushed to upgrade (even if it was only a test). Sure, maybe it doesn’t sound like such a big deal but it is. YouTube Thumbs Up is essential in marketing your content, specially if you run a high profile YouTube show.
In other words, some people say the numbers in terms of growth are questionable and some say the practices for user acquisition are more than annoying and pushy.
3 – Low Engagement
There is some very interesting data here:
- The average post generates less than one “+1″
- The average post generates less than one share
- The average post generates less than one reply
- 15% of people who published five posts don’t come back
- The average time between posts is 12 days
Now, the fact that these figures are extremely low does not mean your case will be at that level. Here is an example of a post from Mari Smith with 34 +1′s, 18 shares and 8 comments.
When I asked folks on the SocialMouths Facebook Page, the response was drastic, either “it’s working for me” or “I get no engagement”. no gray areas. Either people have given up or never even tried it and a few people that are getting good results.
We tend to compare engagement between Google+ and Facebook, I think we should definitely compare, this is marketing after all. What we should not do is have the same expectations, Facebook is an established media platform and you probably had much more time to build community.
And a bonus point, something that probably doesn’t have too much impact in why engagement is low but still a valid point that I’m sure is in the way for some of us in how we interact with Google+.
The Multiple Google Accounts Mumbo Jumbo
Dealing with multiple Gmail or Google Apps accounts can be the ultimate nightmare. I don’t know if this issue is considered low priority over at Google HQ but it prevents a lot of users from being active in a natural way. Let me explain…
I have 2 Google Apps accounts, one for SocialMouths and for Plural, there is no way around it. Then I have a personal Gmail account, which I used to create my Google+ profile when it launched. To spin your head a little more, I’m a Google Chrome user, which should make this easier but it doesn’t.
This means that I have to either toggle between accounts or use multiple browser windows and sign in with different accounts. I can’t even give a +1 to a post on a blog without going through all this mess, so I don’t.
That right there is the reason I can’t be more active on Google+ and I’m sure there are other people out there with the same issue.
In my opinion, Google+ should not be off your radar, it should definitely be included in your social strategy taking the following considerations:
- If there is a discrepancy in the total number of active users, it does not matter. It’s clear that Google+ is not small
- Engagement doesn’t happen overnight, lower your expectations for now and go to work. Stop comparing with Facebook
If you are in the middle of the multiple account jungle and you find out how to fix it… let me know!
How About You?
It’ll be great if could share your own experience, add a comment and tell us if you are getting engagement, if you are getting any traffic back to your site or blog. Also, how active are you? how often do you post?