Don’t Underestimate Google +


Google+ could surprise the doubters, says GlobalWebIndex founder Tom Smith.

It’s not hard to find critics of Google’s attempts to harness social in recent the years. But the sceptics should be wary of underestimating the power of the Mountain View behemoth.

The latest data from GWI.6 suggests that although widely known for its core search product – reaching more than 85% of global internet users every month (up from 76.1% in GWI.1) - Google+ is becoming the exciting new contender in social media.

A massive 22% of social network users now have Google+ profiles – peaking in India at 49%. Google+ is now the world’s second-biggest social network, although it remains well behind Facebook.

While these accounts may not be actively used yet, integration with other Google services and in particular search, represents a major change to the social media landscape.

Google’s early success with Google+ contrasts with stagnation at Facebook. Global visits may be continuing to rise but it has reached saturation many markets. Rising numbers are restricted to expanding internet markets such as India, Indonesia and Brazil.

At the same time the frequency of key Facebook activities including status updates, searching for new contacts or sending a message to friends is falling, particularly in the US.

With clear fatigue in Facebook usage and stalling Twitter growth, there are huge opportunities in social. Google’s decision to integrate Google+ with search – while controversial – has created a central social layer across the internet.

Add to this deep Google+ integration into Android phones and expanding growth of Google Chrome, and Google is starting to look like a major player in social.

Its challenge now is to capture significant user engagement, not just sign-ups. 

Photo (cc) Halil Gökdal