Why It Still Means Not Much That Google+ Is Now Second Largest Social Network
Gianluigi is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
According to the UK market research firm Trendstream’s Global Web Index (GWI), Google+ has surpassed Twitter and Youtube, and is now behind Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) in terms of active users. Personally I was surprised by these figures, as Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is not know for its ‘social’ successes in the past; think for instance of Google Wave, Google Buzz and Orkut, although the latter social network is popular in some countries such as India and Brazil.
The top five website based on the amount of active users in December 2012 (taken from GWI):
- Qzone (China only)
What is interesting is that when when we compare the power of Google versus Facebook, is that when accumulating both Google+ and Youtube it reaches almost the same amount users as Facebook. Of course this is not the same and I’m comparing apples and oranges, but when we think about Google as an ecosystem, all the learnings and data could be integrated to create a new and possibly enhanced online experience by Google.
So what’s the catch I was talking about earlier?
Initially I had a disconnect between my experiences and what I read about Google+ and hear from people who use it (or not). The experience I sense is depicted perfectly in the following picture:
And I think this is the catch behind Google+’s growth, the interpretation of Usage or Contribution as elaborated in GWI’s article:
Sharing buttons, and therefore also Google+’s sharing button on many millions and millions of websites blur the interpretation of how well Google+ is doing. A lot of marketers are advising people to “plus” their articles because it is beneficial to ranking their own blogs, articles and so on. I do it as well.
However this does not mean Google+, the network where you can actually interact, create “Circles” and what more is used fanatically, hence the picture above, and that’s the same experience I have when lurking on Google+. I sense it’s being used for the SEO power of it behind the system, not because of its social capabilities and opportunities.
GWI’s article also mentions Facebook fatigue, but it’s not fatigue, I think it’s called that way due to the comparison made in relation to past performance by Facebook.
Facebook does have a challenge though, keeping the platform interesting enough so that it won’t decline. Personally I think Facebook is still ahead, also when looking at its potential and applications.
I must say I was surprised to see the percentage of traffic by LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) and the amount of active users to be that relatively low.
Traffic however doesn't explain the complete picture. Even if it does not have as much traffic as Google+, Twitter and Facebook, in terms of attention Linkedin is a serious player.
A new recent study by digital marketing software provider Optify found that organisations that actively managed social media campaigns, companies who had more than one lead from social or more than 10 visits per month, have seen better conversion and engagement rates.
In short the results are as following, Facebook drives the most traffic and Twitter drives the most leads, but when we look at stickyness and attention, Linkedin performs best with an average of 2.48 page per visit, followed by Facebook (1.94) and Twitter (1.51).
The more time and pages one spend on Linkedin (or any other social network) the better chance it has to monetize this attention.
The fact that Twitter has the most conversions is not surprising and does not affect the power of Linkedin. Twitter is a very volatile platform, it still is being used more as a broadcast system than as a real conversational medium. If you look at the picture above, Linkedin and Facebook has similar percentages of lead conversion compared to Twitter, supporting my previous point about a more push-network instead of conversational platform.
The challenge is attention
Lots of popular networks have a high growth, have a look at the latest, Pinterest. The growth phase might be the easy part of the life cycle. Facebook is working of Graph Search to offer a new compelling angle to its experience, will that be enough to retain its users to keep coming back? That remains to be seen.
In (digital) business, Attention is key!
GLCuccureddu has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Facebook and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!