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In June 2011 Google launched Google+, another attempt from Google at taking on the social market.
After Google Wave, Google+ was seen as the platform that was finally ready to take on the big player Facebook.
Just over one year on and Google+ boasts over 250 million registered users.
Not bad for its first year however of those 250 million users who have registered an account only 150 million are active users. As a standalone figure 150 million is a huge number but when you compare this to the reported 955 million active users currently on Facebook you can see that Google+ still has its work cut out if it wants to become the big player.
But one year on most of us are still asking the same question we did 6 months ago:
Who is actually using Google+?
Let’s be honest how many of us are really using it?
How many of us are using it as a social platform in the same way we are Facebook or Twitter?
How many of us take a look at Google+ for a quick catch up on what our mates are getting up to?
How many of us rush to Google+ to inform everyone we are connected to that we are stuck in traffic? Come on – hardly any of us.
Why? Well there could be a few reasons. People don’t have the time for yet another social platform that they have to keep updated, they don’t like it and (maybe most importantly) their mates aren’t on Google+.
Personally I think that last point may be the biggest reason – At the moment I am reluctant to use Google+ in the same way I do Facebook because I can’t find anyone on there I personally know. As a result the whole social side of this platform falls short for me. I’m less likely to update with the more meaningless stuff because I know the people I am actually connected to don’t care.
I’ve even asked people I’m connected to on Facebook if they have Google+ accounts – the answer is always no with a majority not even knowing what Google+ is.
If I look at my account I have connected up with people mainly within my industry, all of which I have looked to connect with because they post information I find interesting or they are leaders in their field and when they talk I should be listening.
But they aren’t my mate Darren who I have known for over 20 years and I am sure they have no desire to know that I just bumped into some bloke we used to work with. And they certainly don’t care if I am attending the match on a Saturday.
So if your mates aren’t using Google+ what about those who are.
Well it was recently reported by research company RJ Metrics that Google+ users spent around 3 minutes a month on Google+ compared to the average Facebook user who spent more than seven hours using it over the course of one month. (This research was based on monitoring 40,000 Google+ accounts).
They also reported that of these 40,000 30% of these users made an initial post and then never returned.
It is important to point out that there is a chance that if posts were made to specific circles then there is no way Metrics would have been able to see these.
Now saying no one is using it is a really sweeping statement, people are and people are genuinely enjoying it.
There are even some who prefer Google+ to Facebook.
There are elements to Google+ that make it stand out and if sold differently could open the door to a much bigger audience.
Take the Hangout option – this is face to face online social networking.
That alone is a huge selling point over any other social platform.
But until it is sold to the masses it will largely remain the digital industry who hold a presence.
So OK, as social platforms go, Google+ isn’t that social at the moment.
But most of us will be drumming it into our client’s heads that they need a presence of some sort on Google+ but how can we if no one is using it?
How do you sell that to them?
Well actually it’s quite simple.
Whether anyone likes it or not Google+ is here to stay. This isn’t Google Wave. Google+ is staying. Too much has been thrown at it. This can’t fail; if it does then potentially Google will never be able to jump into the social market again.
Because of this Google will integrate Google+ into all services Google have to offer. But the biggest impact is of course going to come in the ranking results themselves.
It doesn’t take a genius to guess that at some stage Google+ will be a huge player in how sites rank. Already we have seen the impact Google+ Local and the Venice update have had on the type of local results users now see.
So the long and short of it is – it doesn’t matter how many people are using Google+ – YOU have to.
If you are an online business you need a Google+ presence. It really doesn’t matter how many people aren’t using it – you need to.
It may well be that Google+ turns more into some kind of social business platform instead of a true rival to Facebook. Attracting the non-business users may end up being a step too far with too many people unconvinced by what it has to offer or just simply unaware of it full stop.
Unless Google ends up forcing anyone who wants to use their search engine to log into a Google account (which automatically pushes you down the road of creating a Google+ account the first time you use one) then getting everyone on board may just be too big.
It has only been a year and maybe talk of Google+ not having the impact it would like is unfair.
Regardless: when the question is asked “Who is using Google+?” make sure the answer is you.
Samantha Noble is well known within in the search industry, she even won the UK Search Personality 2016 at the UK Search Awards in November. This year, she continues to make an impact on the industry by judging not only one, but three, prestigious industry awards.