Google Plus: (Still) Struggling
Despite its recent revamp and Google’s recent claim that 150 million people had “upgraded” (a vague way to say that 150 million people are on Google Plus, sort of using it, sort of not) to Google Plus, the fledgling social network cannot quite count itself in the big leagues yet. Why not? Because, according to an article published yesterday by eMarketer, Google Plus still struggles to make itself relevant despite its importance to personalized search.
It’s an uphill battle for Google’s social network.
According to eMarketer, “…in spite of its fast growth in user numbers, the service has not enjoyed the stickiness of other top social media properties.” To back up this assertion, the article turns to comScore numbers to prove its case (“…[the] average time users in the US spent on the social networking site was down to 3.3 minutes in January 2012, from 5.1 minutes in November of last year”), revealing that users aren’t engaging with the social network, despite signing up in droves. Users simply aren’t compelled to participate in and engage with the social network like they are on Facebook and Twitter. Could this be because Facebook and Twitter have the advantage of age, and therefore users find that more of their friends use these other social networks? Or is there something more to it that makes Google Plus undesirable? Are users having a hard time juggling three or four social networks, where they were okay juggling just two or three? The answers to these questions vary depending on who you ask – but one point definitely underlies all of them: the popular perception of Google Plus is that no one really uses it, except for maybe some tech bloggers. So, Google Plus is popular for being unpopular.
However, it is important to note (as the article does), that even if Google Plus doesn’t become a powerhouse social network like Facebook, it still certainly has an impact on Google users, especially when it comes to personalized search and “Search Plus Your World.” Google has launched “Search Plus Your World” and advanced it, with no signs of slowing down or stopping based on Google Plus’s shortcomings and failures to perform as expected or desired. As eMarketer notes, “A searcher logged in to Google who had signed up to Google+ and added a few people to Circles might not be actively using the social network anymore, but if that user’s connections were active, their +1s and Picasa photo albums had a sudden and unexpected prominence in their search results.”
The article also notes that marketers would be silly to ignore Google Plus. Brand pages offer a unique opportunity for companies to connect with clients on a deeper level, giving them a place to share interactive content and conduct hangouts. Further, the “direct connect” option currently allows some companies (generally, larger ones like Ford and H&M) to connect their brand pages with organic search results. However, as eMarketer notes, “…though those brand pages offer marketing opportunities not available from competitors like Facebook, putting dollars toward Google+ before usage levels increase will remain a tough sell.” Do you think Google Plus will ever be able to get out of this new social network sandbox? Or was a successful, engaging Google social network never meant to be? Let us know what you think in the comments!
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