The State of Google+: Observations Two Months After Launch
After an initial flurry of activity that resulted in over 20 million users joining the network, Google+ has experienced a measurable reduction. In fact, technology blog GigaOm estimates that as many as 83 percent of users are inactive.
To have a large percentage of users be classified as inactive is not unique to Google+. Other networks experience a similar fate. For example, research indicates that as many as 80 percent of Twitter users are inactive.
What makes this statistic meaningful where Google+ is concerned is that the social network is still in its infancy, having been launched only two months ago.
I've fallen prey to the same malady. Having joined Google+ the day after its launch, I have found that, over time, my own activity has lessened, as well as that of many of my friends.
There are many reasons for this, however. When something huge like Google+ comes along, early adopters are sure to jump onboard. That explains the rapid rise in the number of users.
Following that, there is always a period of discovery - usually short-lived - where everyone experiments with the various bells and whistles offered on the site. Then, as the new wears off, we fall back into established patterns and habits.
Whether or not Google+ can have a place within the already overcrowded social media ecosystem remains to be seen. Google recently added a social games component, which will appeal to many, I'm sure.
However, the real tell will be when business profiles are added. At the outset, a number of businesses created profiles, but Google was quick to remove them saying that, for the time being, it wanted profiles to only represent people, not brands. Google has promised business profiles will launch soon, though no firm date has been announced as to when that might happen.
Social Networking Priorities Should be Set
The presence of Google+ has provided one signal benefit. It has forced us to come to terms with the fact that we can't be everywhere and that we have to set not only boundaries, but priorities around our social media engagement.
Something has to serve as the digital hub, in which content is created and from which all other forms of engagement occur. For many, this digital nervous center is a blog. For others, a Facebook Page serves that purpose. This hub anchors our social network activity. Otherwise, without it, we flit about like social butterflies landing on one social network after another and content gets distributed all over the place with no apparent rhyme or reason.
While a digital hub is essential, there must also be social media outposts to which we syndicate content and in which we engage in real time. The process works like this: content creation hub > content syndication > real time community engagement.
The Future of Google+ Remains to be Seen
Only time will tell whether Google+ can find its place among social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Its users will be the ones who make that determination by virtue of their activity, or lack of it.
Frankly, I see Google+ less as a threat to Facebook and more a challenge to Twitter. Many of the posts are links to third-party sites and it allows for more than the 140 character limit imposed by Twitter. Plus, it has a much more logical, easy to follow conversation thread.
I'll refrain from passing judgment until I see what the proposed business profiles have to offer. Since part of my role as social media director at Practical eCommerce, I am always looking for new channels in which to syndicate content and create engagement and discussion around it. Hopefully, business profiles will enable us to establish a beach head inside the network. Again, time will tell.