Google+ is enjoying user engagement at the expense of rival social networks Facebook and Twitter, according to YouGov, which expects another 16 million U.S. users to join the new social network over the coming year.
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) launched its Google+ search engine to limited field-testing June 28. The social network, which lets users add contacts manually in buckets called Circles, acquired over 25 million users worldwide in just over a month since its launch, comScore found.
Google also just refreshed the Google+ for iPhone application, which is popular among + power users with those Apple smartphones.
Google+ appears to be chipping away at engagement levels on Facebook and Twitter, said Bloomberg and researcher YouGov. The two surveyed 1,003 online adult users in the U.S. from July 29 to Aug. 2 and found 45 percent of Google+ users said they read content once a day or more. That compares to 62 percent of Facebook users that said they read Facebook content daily.
Moreover, 46 percent of Google+ users said they created content, whether it be posting status updates or links at least once a week. That's more than the 42 percent of Twitter users who claim they post at least once a week.
With Google reporting 25 million accounts already and an estimated 16 million more U.S. adults reporting that they plan to join over the coming year, Google+ can be a threat to both Facebook and Twitter, Michael Nardis, head of YouGov investment products, said.
Of course, Nardis also said 31 percent of early Google+ joiners report having abandoned Google+ accounts or have not yet created any content on it-a sign that that the social network is not impervious to social-media fatigue, despite the hype.
Here are some other figures for contemplation. YouGov and Bloomberg found that 13 percent of adult Web users in the U.S, have signed up for a Google+ account with another 9 percent planning to sign up in the next 12 months.
ComScore said Google+ users in the U.S. currently number about 7 million or 8 million, with users in India, the U.K. and Canada leading the remaining 18 million or so users from the rest of the world. Bloomberg and YouGov said another 16 million U.S. users alone could be on Google+ by this time next year.
If the geographical demographics from comScore are true, and YouGov is correct in claiming another 16 million U.S. users will join in 12 months, Google+ could add 23 million or more U.S. users alone, and another 30 million or 40 million users in the rest of the world by this time next year. That's 50 million to 60 million-plus users by August 2012.
Such a number will hardly threaten Facebook's near 800 million worldwide user base, but remember that Facebook took three years to hit 50 million users. Google will be much closer to Twitter, which has accrued 200 million users. The question remains whether Google manages to entice users to spend more time on Google+ than on Facebook or Twitter.
That could happen if Google builds a gaming and/or applications platform for third-party developers many expect it to launch for Google+. There's no reason Google couldn't duplicate if not surpass the success Facebook has had with Zynga and its Farmville game with this approach.
Nardis said that as Google+ gains followers, it could blunt Facebook usage, as some 30 percent of Facebook users who already use Google+ claimed they planned on cutting down time spent on Facebook this year.