2 months have passed since Google’s latest social media re-incarnation, so I thought it might be interesting to see where they’re at, and a look at what’s next.
Firstly, they’ve had quite a start, reaching 25m users quicker than their friends at Facebook and Twitter did. It’s taken 1 month to reach such mass, whereas it took Facebook almost 3 years. A false number perhaps as social media was at a very different stage in its lifecycle back then, but a positive for Google all the same.
The other key plus for me is around functionality, ‘Circles’ allow users to organize connections in to pots, so you can have ‘close friends’, ‘family’, ‘work’ and so on – which gives the service a lot of flexibility. This is crucial for Google+ on-going success as Facebook isn’t as flexible in this regard. Interestingly, Facebook have tweaked the site recently (you can manage privacy on individual posts now), and expect more to come as they track the progress of Google+ and manage privacy concerns over time.
On the negative side, that 25m+ audience is jam packed full of nerds… perhaps unsurprisingly it’s over-indexing on early adopter Engineers, Software professionals and most importantly – men. The site currently has 70% men, 30% women which is the total reverse of the rest of the social network sphere, where 60/40 women to men is far more commonplace (Twitter has the highest ratio of women to men with 64/36% women to men, Pew Research Study).
The key step now is how they take the service in to the public mainstream and your network of friends, celebrity, sport, news etc. Basically, Google+ needs to step in to the world of your average Joe on the street, who with 2-3 social profiles already may think they simply don’t need yet another service in their lives.
The most concerning stat for Google HQ from the first two months might just be the active user base, statistics show that 83% of the base are inactive, which is higher than Twitter (which is saying something). So they’ve seen a very high take up rate, but now people are inactive and deciding where this actually fits with their other networks.
Another factor is that they’ve not launched business profiles yet, which will inevitably have an impact in terms of buzz around the service – expect that to come in the next couple of months. However, I’m not convinced that’s going to see a new swathe of engaged users arrive and stay.
Google+ will need to find its place in the social world soon enough; but personally I fear that your regular Jane doesn’t have time for another social network, so there’s a lot more work to be done to change pretty entrenched behaviour amongst that group.
The other concern for me is that Google just doesn’t feel inherently social.... you go to them for something different – and social isn’t it. Only time will tell.
*Bime Analytics Research