Google continues to say that others’ analysis of public use of Google+ is a distortion of actual use — since much of the use of G+ is supposedly private — but Google will not share the data:
Exclusive: New Google Study Reveals Minimal Social Activity, Weak User Engagement - Austin Carr via Fast Company
This week, the data analytics firm [RJ Metrics] provided Fast Company with exclusive new insights on Google+. The findings paint a very poor picture of the search giant’s social network—a picture of waning interest, weak user engagement, and minimal social activity. Google calls the study flawed—we’ll explain why in a second—and has boasted that more than 170 million people have “upgraded” to the network. RJ Metrics’ report, on the other hand, is yet another indicator that Google+ might indeed just be a “virtual ghost town,” as some have argued.
Let’s start with the findings. For its study, RJ Metrics (RJM) selected a sample of 40,000 random Google+ users. RJM then downloaded and analyzed every sample users’ public timeline, which contains all publicly available activity. One important caveat: RJM was only able to look at public data, which as it points out, “is not necessarily reflective of the entire population of users,” since some users are private or at least have private activity. That said, the stats are eye-opening:
- According to RJM’s report, the average post on Google+ has less than one +1, less than one reply, and less than one re-share
- Roughly 30% of users who make a public post never make a second one
- Even after making five public posts, there is a 15% chance that a user will not post publicly again
- Among users who make publicly viewable posts, there is an average of 12 days between each post
- After a member makes a public post, the average number of public posts they make in each subsequent month declines steadily, a trend that is not improving
Part of the reason there have been so many reports on the so-called Google+ “ghost town” is because Google has refused to provide clear figures and metrics for its social network’s active user base. The company has said there are 170 million people who have “upgraded” to Google+, which is just a confusing way to say that 170 million people have signed up for the service (which takes about a click or two if you are already a Gmail user).
The company has been asked repeatedly for monthly active users, and it’s repeatedly denied such requests, essentially calling them irrelevant. The closest we’ve seen of active usership was when the company explained how many Google+ users were engaging with Google Plus-enhanced or -related products. The problem is that Google Plus-enhanced products include YouTube and Google.com, meaning if you are engaging with basically any Google property (there are 120 Google+ integrations thus far) while signed up with Google+, Google is basically counting this as engagement with Google+, which is incredibly misleading, as some have argued.
Google has continuously fudged its numbers and dodged specifics around Google+, as search guru Danny Sullivan has recorded in his brilliant rundown of Google’s lack of transparency on the subject. To confuse things all the more, Larry Page recently said in an earnings call that “there are 2 parts to the Google+ experience: the part that is the social spine, and the other part that’s the social destination part of Google+ exclusively. Both of these are growing fast, but the social destination part of Google+ is growing as a new product with very healthy growth.”
There’s a simple way to solve this problem: Just provide the number of active monthly users on Google+ (proper). Facebook does it. Google even does it with YouTube, which, as Larry Page boasted recently, has 800 million monthly users. But when I made a request for such figures, Google did not provide them.
They won’t provide them. It’s a Ponzi scheme: Google is hoping that somehow, someway Google+ will catch on and that they can use that success to render the horrible reality of today irrelevant. However, it is likely to fall to pieces.
Is Page concerned that this latest gamble in the social marketplace might be his last? After Wave, is Google+ his last chance?