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Is Google Plus a useless social network? See the stats

About 90% of the professionals I work with believe Google Plus is a joke. That statistic is based on the number of people who laugh at it when it comes up in conversation, and based on the information given by Eric Enge in his analysis of more than half a million Google Plus profiles.

He analysed 516,246 randomly chosen profiles and discovered that 90% of the accounts had never posted content. Obviously a lot of people have G+ profiles by default when they sign up to YouTube to post a comment or use other services owned by Google.

It’s easy to criticise Google Plus on this basis – some people hate being forced to use it. Imagine if you were forced to create a Facebook account each time you wanted to comment on a blog post but you had no interest in Facebook.

I know, right?

But is Google Plus a social network?

It’s also easy to criticise Google Plus for being a rubbish social network when you compare it with Twitter and Facebook. You always hear about Facebook and Twitter in the media but you never hear BBC News quoting some celebrity’s posts on G+.

But is it a social network? The answer is obviously yes, if you want to use it as such. It has social networking features (much better functionality than Facebook, in my opinion), you can manage lists of people and you can communicate easily with those people within the platform or via Gmail.

G+ is more than a social network though. It is also an identity card. It’s Google’s way of verifying who you are and recognising you across different services.

You don’t like having to create a Google Plus account to post on YouTube? Well, what about the time you are on Google Maps and something familiar appears because you are logged into your Google account? There are many benefits.

Back to the Google Plus user statistics

Eric Enge’s analysis extrapolates that 9.7% of Google Plus’s 2.2 billion accounts are active through public posting on Google Plus. That means more than 200 million people are actively posting in public on Google Plus.

In summary, he concludes that 16 million people post on Google Plus at least once per month. Bear in mind that people can also post privately on G+ through their own Circles.

How does Google Plus compare with other social networks?

Statista.com reported in March 2015 that Google Plus had 300 million active users. That’s more than Twitter. Now, Eric Enge’s research showed that a large proportion of G+ active users had only posted one public post, you would have to consider how posts have been posted by users of other social networks.

Statista.com table from March 2015 showing number of active users on different social networks.
Statista.com table from March 2015 showing number of active users on different social networks.

Research from Pew Research Center gives some insight into frequency of use. Facebook, which is used by 71% of its audience daily, is clearly in the lead in terms of engagement. Google Plus is not included in this report by Pew.

Pew Data Center social frequency data

Regardless of the numbers, there are plenty of people using Google Plus, and a lot of marketers saying it’s great for traffic generation – not least Ana Hoffman of Traffic Generation Cafe, who has published this Google Plus bite-size tutorial for the busy marketer.

Please add me to your Google Plus circles

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3 Comments

  1. This is one of those case where people can whine about G+ all they want. Those of us who take the time to build a solid presence there, engage, bring value, etc. are the ones who are reaping the benefits. I am OK with that – a bigger piece of pie for us. lol

    Thanks for pulling together so much supporting research, Steve, and the shout-out, of course – honored.

    • Steve Masters Steve Masters

      Pleasure Ana. Being told G+ is rubbish is a bit like all those Mac users 15 years ago who were treated like they were elitist, as if Mac would never break out. A lot of criticism also comes from people assuming it is trying to be one thing and failing at that one thing.

  2. Please note that the Statista post gives no references for where it got its data. The Google+ figure seems to be from the last figures quoted by Google, from October 2013. That makes it pretty old data.

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