Is Google+ a failure, destined for the graveyard?

What is the future looking like for Google+? A theoretical disucssion between father and son from a post apocalyptic 2050 as they barbeque a swamprat…

You are reading: Is Google+ a failure, destined for the graveyard?

Google+ RIP In the marketing community, we keep hearing about Google+ as the marketers dream platform.

Features such as Ripples and the Circles function do seem incredibly appealing. It’s fair to say that the audience segmentation and targeting options are unparalleled and in a marketer’s perfect world, everyone would be using the service.

But guys, I hate to piss on your rainbow, but no real people in the real world are using Google+.

Based on anecdotal and statistical information, it seems as though the only people that are truly involved in any sort of Google+ community are the people that stand to benefit from widespread uptake of the platform. That is never going to entice the masses into abandoning their longstanding relationship with Facebook, Twitter and their new BFF, Pinterest.

At the moment, Google+ is like a pool of piranhas. The piranhas in this metaphor being online marketers, waiting to segment, target and sell to any real person that dares to step into the water.

Is this the problem with Google+?

It has great features, millions of members and plenty of famous advocates – and yet it remains the much maligned ghost town of the internet. A digital Chernobyl – deserted and almost completely devoid of organic life.

How has it come to this? Well, as Google+ teeters on the precipice of epic fail territory, we decided to create an infographic documenting some of the most shocking Google+ statistics on the internet, as well as some stats sourced from magical maths inside my brainbox. Key stats include:

  • 30% of G+ users make one post – and never post again!
  • People spend a combined total of 134,000 years on Facebook each month.
  • Users spend 30x more time on PInterest than Google +, and 136x more time on Facebook!
  • The average post on G+ receives less than 1 reply


So how do you feel about Google+?

Whilst it feels strange to pit Google as the underdog, does Google+ stand a chance against the behemoths of the social media world?

Time will tell – we hope that we won’t have to wave goodbye to Google+ as we did with Google Wave, but the stats don’t look good and it does appear to be a case of ‘too little, too late’.

17 thoughts on “Is Google+ a failure, destined for the graveyard?

  1. You are ignoring the “social spine” component of G+ which links Google services such as gmail, YouTube etc. That component is here to stay. The social network component of G+ with Circles etc. is quite good and elegantly designed but people that are on Facebook do not feel there is any need to jump to G+. Google will have to keep working hard to find compelling reasons why people should start using the social network component of G+. Google is packed with intelligent people. If they try hard enough, they will succeed.

  2. I’m in 2 minds…

    On the one hand, you’re right – I’ve not met a single person that has used Google+ for personal reasons… It’s full of business pages and personal profiles for online marketers and individuals from organisations that have been recommended to be active on Google+. If you’re looking for a social platform to connect with consumers then at the moment, Google+ doesn’t cut it.

    Having said that, there are some benefits to being active on Google+ at the moment… rel=author for example has been shown to increase click-through rates, and over time I’d imagine “AuthorRank” will increasingly impact on organic results. Also, once Search Plus Your World is rolled out in the UK there’s bound to be a small surge of people that try Google+ out. I think Google will keep pushing it on people until they have no choice but to use it – the integration of Google Places pages into Google Plus Local is a perfect example, and I can only imagine they will continue to combine their products… maybe even to the extent that in order to access your Gmail you have to log into your Google+ profile?

    It will be interesting to see what the next 6/12/18 months hold.


    1. Thanks for your thoughts Mike – I agree with you that Google has the trump card in that it can do quite a lot to force people to join.

      I also feel that this is a bit of an issue as I don’t think anyone likes to be forced into doing anything.
      I was surprised to see my main email account (we use Google Apps) was suddenly a Google+ account without me actually asking for it. That wasn’t great, but the fact that they didn’t allow Google Apps accounts to sign up in the first place was a hideous example of the left hand not really knowing what the right hand was doing.

      The net result (for me) was that I messed around with it on a personal gmail account and then found myself with a profile associated with my main (work) email account. Suddenly, there were two Joe Friedleins and no tool to migrate from one to the other. 2 half-hearted efforts is worse than 1 decent one and I have subsequently given up on both.

      It is a shame as there is a lot about it that I love (especially circles), but ‘engaging’ with Google+ feels more like shouting into a big empty cave.

      As you say though, the next year will be interesting and we can only wait to see what Google throws at it to make people use it.

  3. I rarely use Gmail because I’m a Hotmail user (since 1999). I do have a Gmail account and use it occasionally but I have invested a lot of time in Facebook and so I am not really interested in joining another social media platform. I also use Twitter and Pinterest although for me, they are still new territories to fully explore. I have a lot of friends, far and wide, in both the UK and overseas, that all use Facebook. Here I am able to keep in touch with family in Australia, friends in the US and my husband on the opposite sofa(!). If a sizeable percentage of close friends made the switch to Google+, I would probably go and see what all the fuss is about. Facebook provides a useful platform for me to read the international media, stay informed about causes that I am interested in and deliver humour and tears all in the same five minutes. Why would I, indeed should I, venture elsewhere?

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Jill.

      You have summed up their challenge in two statements:

      “If a sizeable percentage of close friends made the switch to Google+, I would probably go and see what all the fuss is about”

      “Why would I, indeed should I, venture elsewhere?”

      Google+ needs critical mass. Whilst it boasts a large number of users, it cannot brag about the number of active users. A social network needs to be social. It is hard to be social if there is nobody to be social with!

  4. I use Goolge+ much more than facebook, and I have a lot of friends there. I’d take it over facebook any day, hands down. I think it’s just a matter of time before if grows and overtakes FB. It’s a lot easier to use, and much easier to share content with who I want. Also, they seem to take privacy a lot more seriously and care more about what their users want than facebook does.

    Honestly, we are looking at a site which is just having it’s first birthday and can boast 150 Million Active Monthly users.

    As of May, G+ had over 100Million Active Monthly users, where as it took facebook until 2008 to reach 100 Million Active Monthly users. That’s 4 years for Facebook to get where G+ has gotten in what? 10 to 11 months? And you think Google+ isn’t successful?

    If Google+ was some little start up out of nowhere, people would find these numbers incredible. However, because it’s from a large known company they are expecting miracles. It takes more time for people to shift from one social network to another; the exodus from myspace to facebook took a lot more than a year.

    I say give it time. Google is managed better, does better with their investors and has a higher approval rating in general with the public. I can easily see G+ overtaking Facebook by 2015.

    1. Great to hear some gushing praise and enthusiasm for Google+ from you Kit!

      We too feel that Google+ is better than Facebook in many ways, but still fear that a better ‘product’ will ultimately fail due to the impossible ‘inertia factor’ of getting people to change their social media platform alliegance.

      The polls are proving interesting. So far, it would seem that people do like Google+, but more see it doomed to failure than destined for success.

      Time will tell and we will watch closely.

  5. Seriously? Browser Media and this “journalist” should be totally ashamed of this kind of research. Citing skewed numbers… absolutely NO interaction or exploration of G+. The author has only 17 people in his circles, has 5 people following him and hasn’t even made a single public post.

    With 21 years in social network development, I’ve seen EVERY platform come and go… likewise, a lot of unqualified reporters talking out of their ass… this is one… crap research, bad stats… don’t bother giving this one backlinks… it’s not worth giving them one single click of referral traffic.


    1. Tom – thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and joining the debate. It is good to see that you feel strongly about the issue!

      We don’t like to hide from criticism and will take everything on the chin (and share it – hence publishing your post) but there are a few aspects of your comment that are worth discussing:

      -you claim the numbers are skewed : where is there factual inaccuracy? We have shown the good (the traffic levels) but countered that with the facts regarding true usage / interaction. We have not made these numbers up and have tried hard to find the positives. If you want to present some stats that show that people are actually engaging deeply on Google+, then we are all ears.

      -you say that we have no interaction or exploration of G+ : amongst the team, we have a number of Google+ accounts (in many cases, individuals have more than 1 account thanks to the migration fail mentioned by Joe), so please don’t judge our knowledge and level of experience on one account. We have used it and we have champions. Even the champions say that it feels like shouting into a cave at times.

      -you say that you have 21 years in social network development (and interesting claim – The Well is probably the first example of a social network back in 1985, but perhaps you were also involved with the likes of Geocities or Tripod? We hear a lot about social media ‘experts’ but very few have 21yrs of heritage) and that you have seen every platform come and go : this is EXACTLY the issue that we want to explore. Is Google+ going to be another effort that comes but will ultimately vanish? We hope not, but the stats (which we didn’t make up) are not encouraging and the poll results are not currently pointing towards longevity…

      -you say ‘crap research, bad stats’ : as we say, we welcome your input and engagement but don’t feel that this is fair, nor are we talking out of our ass. We have simply presented some factual statements about the platform which can be found on thousands of sites (if you search for ‘Google+ fail’ on Google itself, you will find a lot of negativity) and added our thoughts based on our experience.

      We are not asking for links. We are asking a question about the future of Google+ and seeking the thoughts of the wider community as it is an interesting debate. Many have supported the notion that the platform is great but it has come too late (and has shot itself in the foot with day one errors like not developing the migration tool in time), but several have supported a long and bright future for the platform.

      It is an interesting one. The top level figures are impressive, but the true number of active users shows a less optimistic outlook. Is it too big to fail? We think not. The likes of Friendsreunited and Myspace show that users are not entirely loyal. This may actually be the saving of Google+ as people get fed up of Facebook but still want to tell the world everything about themselves, but Google would be arrogant to assume that people will use it just because it is Google.

      Your last point – ‘EPIC FAIL’ : is that a public vote on the poll or a comment on our blog post? :-)

  6. Now that they&#39ve started integrating things like Google Places and are introducing Events I&#39ve the sense Google + isn&#39t going anywhere. I don&#39t like the fact that they&#39re moving in so many directions at once, but the battle is on for Web dominance and they have to have a social component if they stand a chance. These are still very early days.

  7. This is a well written and you can tell the author has put a lot of thought in to it; but you can also feel his bias. The problem is, his bias is the truth.

    Google+ just isn’t used by the majority of people with an account. There is a thriving community there, and it’s in no way a failure. Now if a social network doesn’t compete with Facebook, it’s a loser… which is ridiculous. The stats are completely skewed because all the users who aren’t active are wiping out the engagement that active users put up. It would have been better to show the active community as a control group, because after all, as a percentage the active community of Facebook users is probably closer to the total number of active users.

    It’s a bunch of marketers ready to pounce – and it has proven great for people like RObert Scoble selling hosting solutions and Chris Brogan selling webinars about how to sell webinars on Google+, but it isn’t selling cookware and electronics as quickly as Pinterest. I can see that.

    You guys aren’t counting on Google’s other ventures though. A lot of Apple software becomes popular because it’s all you have on the iPhone. As Google integrates G+ with the Android operating system, more average users will start to become active, and eventually they’ll start reaching critical mass in small subsets. Then the subsets will start to grow together, and eventually you’ll have a skeleton network of active users blanketing the US. It will eventually happen.

    The main point though, is that an active community of 75 million is a HUGE community, and calling that a failure is pretty harsh. The community that is there is active, and they support the platform. That’s more than Facebook can say. What Google fanboys need to remember is that this isn’t a “It is what it has evolved in to”. No no no. Google wants G+ to be a Facebook alternative, not an Internet marketing circle jerk. They’d gladly trade the users they have for a more average set because the influence of someone selling Empower Network DVDs is greatly exaggerated. Google says it in their commercials, in the literature, and all the UX updates are targeted to new users. They aren’t going to accept an emo – marketing and photography niche network. If it doesn’t attract average users, they’ll file it away with Knol and Buzz because that’s how they do.

    1. Adam – it is getting late on this side of the pond but thank you very much for sharing your (very well balanced) views. You raise some excellent points and it is true that 75million active users is not to be sniffed at.

      We do hope that it doesn’t go the way of Buzz and Wave and it is good to read a rational appraisal of its strengths.

      Have a great weekend!

  8. Hi Tom,

    Think this is a bit harsh on Google.

    Google + isn’t trying to be a social network as such, I think it will become your overall Google ID, if you use any Google product, eventually you will use Google +. They themselves have said, think of it not as a social network but rather an ‘upgrade’ to Google.

    They incorporated it into their Google glass concept video, so you can see how seriously they are taking it. I don’t think Google will completely force users into getting a Google + account, but subtly, almost like the current ‘cookies scenario’, you don’t have to accept them, but if you do you will have much better ‘experience’.

    Like Google authorship, you cant have that benefit unless you are on Google +, granted many people will create one just for that purpose, but eventually you may become an active member.

    Hopefully I will still be around in 2050, to see what happens!


  9. When Google Glass takes off (and it will) Google+ will be its killer app. This is what will entice people to invest time setting up full profiles. The only question remains, is if Google can keep it running for that long? They have deep pockets and it is embedded in the spine of other google services, so why not?

  10. I think the interface in Facebook is crap, so confusing! Yet compared to the illogical nonsensical design of G+, seemingly non-function interface of content control and integration of my business Places page, mixed with no support, poorly written documentation, leads me to one conclusion! G+ with be an overwhelming success! Billions flocking to this incredible interface of communications and sharing! (sarcasm)

  11. Agree with the article… G+ is a time consuming and technically complex social system to use.

    But my two bugs with G+ is that once you have had the misfortune to
    register with G+ you cannot get out; have tried every which way, did it via Google Apps…. G confirmed I am out of G+ but 6 months later I am still stuck with it, it has become a ball and chain affair…the worst error I have made on the web so far.

    The other is that you lose control of your Picasa account (which to me is one of Google’s masterpieces) unless you travel through your G+ account…i.e. Google blackmail.

    ….and I thought that Google was into keeping cyber space honest.

  12. G+ is the network people disgruntled with whatever stupid change Facebook makes threaten to go to, but then don’t because their friends are still on FB. At first sight, I’d say it looks better designed than Facebook, with the arrangement of “Circles” being more intuitive and more central than Facebooks Lists

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