I recently read an article on Inc. Magazine entitled Why It’s Finally Time to Close Your Google+ Account by John Brandon. Brandon views Google+ as a big mess and nightmare. He argues that there was always a problem with the service, from the beginning, and that there’s a bizarre dichotomy between “real work” you do by checking emails and writing business plans and then attempting to socialize with people. He recommends that Google just stick with what they do best – “being a utility of the internet”.
Brandon brought up some key points that I felt were worth considering and further examining. Many of the posts I share on Google+ bring visitors with a high bounce rate. As well, 85% of the posts have miniscule engagement. When you enter the communities, the number of members is small compared to what you find on LinkedIn and Facebook. Digital marketing specialists like myself have been going back and forth for years about Google+’s ability to attract meaningful activity.
The future of Google+ is definitely uncertain. Google boasts impressive growth and membership numbers for its social media service, but is it really worth using? Let’s have a closer look.
The History of Google+
When Google+ was first launched in 2011, everyone was talking about how it will be the new Facebook and will become the leading social networking platform on the web. Just two weeks into the launch, Google+ gained 10 million users. By the end of that year, 90 million users had a Google+ account. Compare that to Facebook and Twitter, it took 3 and half years for the former to reach that number and the latter just under 3 years to reach it.
Google+ was distinct in two ways; providing it a major competitive advantage in the world of social media marketing. The first was that it forced users to sign up for a Google+ account if they wanted to be active on YouTube, Photos and Google Drive. Secondly, CEO Larry Page tied 25% of all employee bonuses to the social network’s success. All of a sudden, 30,000+ people got motivated and started to spread the cheer.
Where is Google+ Right Now?
International web research company GlobalWebIndex surveyed 83,806 individuals, internet users ranging in age from 16 to 64, from countries around the world (except China whose policies make it difficult). They found that 60% of the participants had a Google+ account, but only 21% were active; less than half.
Another study painted an even grimmer picture of the Google+ engagement. Internet marketing firm Stone Temple Consulting reviewed 516,246 randomly selected Google+ profiles. It found that over 91% of Google+ accounts had nothing on them; not one post shared. As well, it found that only 16 million people truly post on Google each month. It thereby concluded that much of why Google+ is a ghost town is because it exists in the shadow of Facebook.
Looking at all these studies really did not explain the high bounce rate I was getting and why most of the pages were ghost towns. As I read further into this Social Media Examiner article, I discovered that Google+ is more of a hit internationally, especially in India, Thailand, Mexico, South Africa and Malaysia. In India, specifically, 80% of their users have a Google+ account and 40% of them are active regularly. Compare that to the United States, 60% of internet users have an account and 21% are actively regularly. The target audience of our business or articles is not in any of the countries where Google+ is popular.
And now that you don’t necessarily have to have a Google+ account to use YouTube, the number of engaged users will diminish further in the Western countries. I finally found my answer! Google+ may not be the best social network for me to use in order to reach my audience.
Is Google+ Dead?
I wouldn’t necessarily say that the social media platform is dead and that all users should abandon it. It has many other uses and is an invaluable tool for businesses: 1) the new Collections feature that was created last spring; 2) Google+ communities are still very active: 3) Google+ Hangouts is still a popular platform that is used by business professionals to host meaningful webinars and discussions. I am simply saying: don’t use it if you’re finding that your target audience is not on always on it. Find another avenue!
iRISEmedia.com is a Toronto digital media agency providing Social Media Marketing, SEO, PPC and online branding services in Toronto, Ontario, the GTA and throughout Canada as well as globally.