Google+ Numbers Allegedly Stagnating; Report Indicates Growth As Dismal

Google Plus Social Network
“Web-analytics firm RJMetrics recently released a report that casts Google+ in an unflattering light.”

(Agoura Hills, CA) Google’s latest entry in the social-media wars has allegedly been struggling with lukewarm interest and an exodus of disenchanted users. Much as with Orkut, an earlier foray into social media that flopped in the U.S. and much of Europe, the initial burst of enthusiasm around Google+ has supposedly given way to a dismal swamp of apathy.

The Web-analytics firm RJMetrics recently released a report that casts Google+ in an unflattering light. RJMetrics subjected the public timelines of 40,000 random users to a bout of cruel and usual number-crunching that produced a number of depressing statistics. The report found that posts by users with fully public activity profiles had on average each accrued under one reply, collected less than one approval mark and attracted under a single re-share.

Social networks live or die on the strength of their ability to hook users into returning regularly. RJMetrics claimed the chances to be about 70% that a user who had left one public post on Google+ would return to make another post; however, users who had left several posts tended to subsequently drift away. The odds of a typical user returning to make a sixth post were only 85 percent, significantly short of the 90 percent mark that RJMetrics believes is the magic number that separates a potential success from a slowly dying failure. RJMetrics also conducted a cohort analysis that measured engagement over time, which seemed to show typically waning interest by new members over the months following their sign-ups.

CNET’s first look into Google’s latest social experiment Google+, and how it’s better–and worse–than Facebook. by Rafe Needleman Jun 30, 2011

A spokesperson at Google disputed the findings, saying that the study is marred by its exclusion of a significant pool of users hidden behind privacy walls. The spokesperson added, “As we’ve said before, more sharing occurs privately to circles and individuals than publicly on Google+.” Company officials maintain that the supposed deterioration of participation rates actually reflects the gravitation of particularly active users to the less visible world of Google+ circles, which is not addressed directly by the report. Larry Page, CEO and co-founder of Google, has described Google+ as being the “spine” of the burly search company’s latest expansion of its social media properties.

Still, some industry observers see Google+ as being more akin to a soft, floppy jellyfish with little ability to fight aggressive competitors. Danny Sullivan, a well-known expert on search developments and longtime commentator on Google, claims that Google has been fudging its numbers to hide falling membership participation. In contrast to Facebook’s relative transparency about its user base, Google has declined to provide specific numbers for active monthly users on Google+. Curiously enough, Google does report such numbers for its video division, boasting that 800 million users visit YouTube monthly.

Danny Sullivan, Executive Editor at Search Engine Land, spoke about Google’s new privacy policies, ad targeting and other potentially harmful practices, it has the “right” to under the new policy and how it relates to Facebook and search.

The search leader continues to assert that the user base for Google+ is healthy and that its flagship social-media effort is primed for strong growth, although some users have complained of overly restrictive policies preventing those with unusual names from participating fully or at all at Google+.

Many social-media efforts have fallen by the wayside over the brief, hectic years of the modern Web, including GeoCities, Myspace and others. Google’s own history of success is mixed. If the tide is once again turning in the chaotic turf wars for the limited attention of social-media users, Google+ may indeed begin to more closely resemble a ghost town than a thriving community.


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