Google+ 5 months on. Still failing?

Is Google+ an epic fail? 5 months after posting an infographic looking at the future of Google+, we take stock and assess whether progress has been made.

You are reading: Google+ 5 months on. Still failing?

5 months ago, we posted an infographic that didn’t paint an especially positive picture of Google+.

I was planning on reviewing Google+’s status quo six months on, but am personally hoping to be stuffing myself full of festive cheer on the 25th of December so thought that I would bring it forward by a month.

The original post was one that provoked more of a reaction than normal and the number of tweets and comments prove to me that there is no doubt that there is interest in the platform and it was good to see some Google fanboys join the party and defend the search behemoth.

Personally, I feel that most of the points raised in the blog post and its comments remain very valid and that Google+ still faces an uphill challenge of herculian proportions. Whilst I would question whether Facebook is enjoying its happiest days, there is no doubt in my mind that Google+ is certainly no Facebook killer.

We hosted two quick polls on the site and the results are in:

How do you rate Google+ as a social media platform?

How do you rate Google+ as a social media platform?

In the future, do you think Google+ will be seen as?

Future of Google+

It seems that people don’t like voting on polls as we only managed to accumulate just over 200 votes on the polls (206 on ‘how do you rate Google+’ and 201 on ‘do you think Google+ will be seen as’), but I think that is enough to have a reasonable degree of confidence in the data.

Whilst there is some support, the majority vote hasn’t gone in favour of Google and we should remember that our blog’s audience is more geeky / techy than most so I would expect to see slightly higher levels of adoption and support.

It is not just our humble poll that suggests that Google+ is faltering.

I was at an international SEO conference a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed a presentation by Bryan Tookey from Brandwatch in which he showed some analysis of social media engagement signals in an attempt to benchmark what ‘normal’ looks like.

The analysis was based on the top 100 social brands as judged by www.socialbrands100.com. A slide that really stood out to me was the following:

Social Media Engagement signals

Remember that these are the MOST social brands out there – it is not the FTSE 100, but the leading brands in terms of social engagement.

Again, not a great stat in favour of Google+? Whilst it is interesting to see that 80% of these brands have a Google+ presence, there is a lot of tumbleweed drifting around and very little activity.

I stumbled across www.googleplusghosts.com recently and it would suggest that even Google employees are failing to get too excited about Google+. I was also very interested to read James Whittaker’s post about his reasons for leaving Google – a good read and he is not bigging up Google+…

As a social media platform, it would appear to be an epic fail (cue the fanboys – please fire away in the comments below).

As a means for Google to harvest yet more personal data, it is powerful and I can’t see them giving up on it as they did with Buzz, Wave, etc. (although you can argue that these have just morphed rather than be culled).

It is hard to sound positive if you look at it from a statistical basis. The numbers just aren’t good. If Vic Gundotra was a premier league footballl manager, he would have been fired by now.

I would, however, like to end on a positive note. Here are my top 3 thumbs up for Google+:

1) I think it is functionally a great platform. I MUCH prefer using it to Facebook, especially on Android (which is where I do most of my limited social stuff). Circles are awesome. Hangouts are very interesting.
2) Google+ local is quite a potent tool
3) Google Authorship is interesting. For me, the jury is still out a little on this but it is one to watch.

There you go, it is not all bad. We would love to hear from you if you have a view – please share your thoughts below.

12 thoughts on “Google+ 5 months on. Still failing?

  1. You’re asking the wrong question. Instead of asking how popular g+ is with others, you should ask how useful is it to yourself. I find it highly useful for storing my stuff and organizing my thoughts in several subject areas before, during or after hanging out in Circles dedicated to those pursuits.

    1. Jack,

      Thanks for your thoughts. Certainly an interesting angle as a quick straw poll in the office revealed that nobody was actually using their Google+ pages. Everyone has a profile, but no-one is actually using it so the answer to your question would be that it isn’t very useful at all, but I am pleased to hear that it helps you organise stuff.

      I have actually just this second got back from a Google Agency event which had a decent presentation from Google+.

      To be brutally honest (we always are), there was a degree of deliberate cheekiness in my post and I am surprised that nobody has hit back with the accusation that we are measuring it purely as a social media platform and comparing it against Facebook, which is the current daddy of social platforms.

      In the presentation this afternoon, they described Google+ as a ‘social spine’. If you are an active Google user (I know I am and I suspect most of our readers are), then the real beauty of Google+ is pulling all your Google life together to enrich your Google experience.

      For example, adding endorsements from your friends to your SERPs (yes, ‘your’ results as they are so personalised) can really enhance your personal experience.

      Only Google+ will allow this unified world. A bit brig brother-esque and I have endured staggering frustration at managing multiple instances of my existence in the Googlesphere, but I think the notion of the ‘social spine’ is going to the secret to its success, even if it is operating in the background.

      Google isn’t going away (unlike the MySpace and Bebos of the world) and I absolutely support their efforts to make the web a more pleasurable experience.

      Provocative blog posts such as this will question the success of Google+ as a social media platform, and the raw stats are still not good, but I think we should embrace the notion of the spine. It isn’t just about how many users there are and how much interaction you get on your page.

      Google+ – the social network that goes up to 11?
      (a prize to the first response which explains this cultural reference!)

  2. You’re asking the wrong question. Instead of asking how popular g+ is with others, you should ask how useful is it to yourself. I find it highly useful for storing my stuff and organizing my thoughts in several subject areas before, during or after hanging out in Circles dedicated to those pursuits.

    1. Jack,

      Thanks for your thoughts. Certainly an interesting angle as a quick straw poll in the office revealed that nobody was actually using their Google+ pages. Everyone has a profile, but no-one is actually using it so the answer to your question would be that it isn’t very useful at all, but I am pleased to hear that it helps you organise stuff.

      I have actually just this second got back from a Google Agency event which had a decent presentation from Google+.

      To be brutally honest (we always are), there was a degree of deliberate cheekiness in my post and I am surprised that nobody has hit back with the accusation that we are measuring it purely as a social media platform and comparing it against Facebook, which is the current daddy of social platforms.

      In the presentation this afternoon, they described Google+ as a ‘social spine’. If you are an active Google user (I know I am and I suspect most of our readers are), then the real beauty of Google+ is pulling all your Google life together to enrich your Google experience.

      For example, adding endorsements from your friends to your SERPs (yes, ‘your’ results as they are so personalised) can really enhance your personal experience.

      Only Google+ will allow this unified world. A bit brig brother-esque and I have endured staggering frustration at managing multiple instances of my existence in the Googlesphere, but I think the notion of the ‘social spine’ is going to the secret to its success, even if it is operating in the background.

      Google isn’t going away (unlike the MySpace and Bebos of the world) and I absolutely support their efforts to make the web a more pleasurable experience.

      Provocative blog posts such as this will question the success of Google+ as a social media platform, and the raw stats are still not good, but I think we should embrace the notion of the spine. It isn’t just about how many users there are and how much interaction you get on your page.

      Google+ – the social network that goes up to 11?
      (a prize to the first response which explains this cultural reference!)

  3. Wow, you’ve totally missed the point if you found value in the googleplusghosts “survey”? That’s some of the poorest quality research ever done on social media. Referencing that as qualified is like saying you can tell how many people own cell phones by counting who uses them while standing in a public place and watching people walk down the street. One of Google+’s greatest values is the ability to share posts to large “Circles” in private and not public. To do research you need to throw-out every metric obtained my scraping and find a way to obtained qualified survey participants… as Google protects our privacy and we only share what we want. You can’t see from the outside looking in on what we’re really doing.

    As co-founder of the world’s first privately held social network in 1991, I can tell you this is the same thing that every major iteration and platform of social media has gone through since Day #1 and predict that Google+ will be the platform that has the ability to not just sustain but grow far longer than any before it has. The many millions of us that have quit Facebook (and won’t even visit a business’s page there) are finding great value in G+ and enjoy being on a system that respect our privacy preferences as opposed to those on Facebook who are continuously exploited.

    P.S. You can thank Google+ for me finding this post, I’m sure not likely to subscribe to sites that use bogus “research”. You cut one corner by a month, you cut another by using that… great work.

    1. Tom,

      Thank you for your passionate response and thoughts. I would love to know how you found the post via Google+ – any clues?

      I hope that my reply to Jack’s comment will show that I really don’t want to be too negative about the platform and I agree with you that circles are awesome (if you read the post again, you will see that quite clearly) but equally feel that some of your comments are a bit harsh.

      I didn’t want to paint it as the best research that mankind has ever done, which is why I was very clear and transparent about the numbers but the research undertaken by Brandwatch was robust and every single piece of research I have seen about Google+ is far from encouraging in terms of ACTUAL usage.

      Please do feel free to share evidence that it is operating successfully beyond a core (fairly techy / savvy) audience as I am actually a big fan. I don’t like Facebook at all and would love G+ to grow at the expense of FB. I just haven’t seen any evidence to suggest that this is happening.

      Thanks again for your thoughts,

      Joe

  4. Wow, you’ve totally missed the point if you found value in the googleplusghosts “survey”? That’s some of the poorest quality research ever done on social media. Referencing that as qualified is like saying you can tell how many people own cell phones by counting who uses them while standing in a public place and watching people walk down the street. One of Google+’s greatest values is the ability to share posts to large “Circles” in private and not public. To do research you need to throw-out every metric obtained my scraping and find a way to obtained qualified survey participants… as Google protects our privacy and we only share what we want. You can’t see from the outside looking in on what we’re really doing.

    As co-founder of the world’s first privately held social network in 1991, I can tell you this is the same thing that every major iteration and platform of social media has gone through since Day #1 and predict that Google+ will be the platform that has the ability to not just sustain but grow far longer than any before it has. The many millions of us that have quit Facebook (and won’t even visit a business’s page there) are finding great value in G+ and enjoy being on a system that respect our privacy preferences as opposed to those on Facebook who are continuously exploited.

    P.S. You can thank Google+ for me finding this post, I’m sure not likely to subscribe to sites that use bogus “research”. You cut one corner by a month, you cut another by using that… great work.

    1. Tom,

      Thank you for your passionate response and thoughts. I would love to know how you found the post via Google+ – any clues?

      I hope that my reply to Jack’s comment will show that I really don’t want to be too negative about the platform and I agree with you that circles are awesome (if you read the post again, you will see that quite clearly) but equally feel that some of your comments are a bit harsh.

      I didn’t want to paint it as the best research that mankind has ever done, which is why I was very clear and transparent about the numbers but the research undertaken by Brandwatch was robust and every single piece of research I have seen about Google+ is far from encouraging in terms of ACTUAL usage.

      Please do feel free to share evidence that it is operating successfully beyond a core (fairly techy / savvy) audience as I am actually a big fan. I don’t like Facebook at all and would love G+ to grow at the expense of FB. I just haven’t seen any evidence to suggest that this is happening.

      Thanks again for your thoughts,

      Joe

  5. Google+ has potential to revive if it works together with Youtube. I believe it is the only way to turn things around, developing Google+ into a platform for sharing pics and videos and broadcasting based on the what Youtube already has.

  6. Google+ has potential to revive if it works together with Youtube. I believe it is the only way to turn things around, developing Google+ into a platform for sharing pics and videos and broadcasting based on the what Youtube already has.

  7. I love Google plus, but I can’t use it to communicate with anyone. I surf it frequently for cool things to read, and I post things, but my colleagues don’t use it, and I feel creepy trying to get people on out that already use something else.

    It is too bad. It really is a far better social tool than Facebook, which is just a time vampire and nothing else.

  8. I love Google plus, but I can’t use it to communicate with anyone. I surf it frequently for cool things to read, and I post things, but my colleagues don’t use it, and I feel creepy trying to get people on out that already use something else.

    It is too bad. It really is a far better social tool than Facebook, which is just a time vampire and nothing else.

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