Google+ a Ghost Town of User Engagement?

 
 
By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2012-02-29
 
 
 

Google CEO Larry Page said during his last earnings conference call that Google+ has more than 90 million users. He declined to reveal the user engagement of those users.

Now comScore reveals that Google+ users only spend an average of three minutes there a month, compared with 405 minutes per user on Facebook. People are spending close to seven hours a month on the leading social networking Website.

Here's comScore's raw data, which excludes smartphone and tablet use:

Google+ User engagement.png

Google's official position is:

The reality that Google+ is much more than a destination site makes it exceedingly hard for any third-party research firm to monitor or measure its performance. Google thinks about the service not as a site but as a deepening of its relationship to billions of existing users who are already committed to Google's services like Search, YouTube, Android, etc. By this measure, engagement is already enormous.

That sounds like Google is dodging the issue. In other words, Google wants you to ignore metrics such as user engagement on the https://plus.google.com/ domain itself.

What does Google mean exactly? Well, there are a number of hooks between Google+ and YouTube, as the company noted. So, for example, I like to use the YouTube video ticker in Google+ to listen to music while working. See here:

Google+ Slayer.png

Note the URL above indicates the destination as Google+, but the video is playing in YouTube. Would comScore count that as user engagement with Google+ or YouTube, or both?

When I do a search on Google.com and see Google+ search results, the user engagement counts as Google.com's, not Google+.

Google is sort of right when it says Google+ isn't a destination site. I post to Google+ a dozen times a day, but from a share button in Chrome or on a Website.

I take photos that get instantly uploaded from my Motorola Droid X, but rarely go into Google+ to publish them. I broadcast there without going to the Google+ destination itself.

Viewed through that lens, three minutes makes sense. And that's fine for me. I don't mind using Google+ as a connective tissue where I upload content for storage and share posts.

But is that going to be fine for Google in a world where Google+ is positioned as a Facebook alternative? I'm not so sure. How will Google derive social ad benefits if users aren't "hanging out" on Google+ the way they do on Facebook?

These are questions I suspect Google has answers to over time. The company keeps saying the experience will ultimately be something magical. That's sounds Apple-like.

We'll see.

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