Chasing Facebook: Google+ is Pacing Itself to Top Facebook in Social Media Growth

googleplus logoYou may have noticed that it’s difficult to get a good read on Google+. You either love it or hate it. There’s no middle ground. Is it fair to call Google+ a ghost town when there are 343 million users, making the network the second largest behind Facebook?

Launched to the public in September, 2011, Google+ has been touted as a fertile ground for in-depth conversations. It’s been lauded for its video chat service, Hangouts and photo services.

Patrick King, CEO of Imagine, a Virginia-based website design firm, writes that tech leaders and social media novices have criticized Google+ from its launch. But King is impressed with the network’s broadcast visibility and audience engagement:

“By now, a lot of people have taken a ride on Google’s Hangout tool, which is by far the best videoconferencing tool of any social site. And now that they’ve released Live Hangouts, you practically have your own live talk show, recorded, and open for anyone to watch. With audience engagement, multi-person conversations are much easier, communities are more accessible, integrated and easier to promote than LinkedIn groups, and Google+ allows the second largest image size of any of the social sites, the first being Pinterest.”

An infographic on Social Media Today highlights several interesting stats. One important fact about Google+ is that there is a significantly larger amount of people registered for the site (1.15 billion) compared with the number of actual users (359 million). These figures are based on the last quarter of 2013. During the same period in 2012, Google+ had 435 million registered users and a mere 223 million active users. (U.S. numbers only).

David and Goliath

So what’s the deal with Facebook? Can Google+ catch and surpass this social behemoth?

Marcus Tober, the founder of Searchmetrics, a global provider of digital marketing software and services, has researched the possibility. Based on Tober’s calculations, Google+ can—and will—top Facebook by 2016.

“The Google network is growing at the stage of small to small which therefore is fast. Facebook is growing from its extremely large base to something larger, and is therefore slower, explains Tober. “The remarkable thing is that Facebook is still growing. And that’s why the blue giant appears to be unquestionably ahead of the market.”

Searchmetrics chart google_facebook_prediction_usCritics say there are a few reasons why Google+ hasn’t caught on like other channels, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. First, Google+ is not a social networking destination as it is everywhere. This confuses people. Second, potential users are concerned about privacy issues and Gmail accounts, and finally, Circles requires too much effort and high maintenance.

Will these reasons hamper the exponential growth that Tober predicts?

 

5 Essential Branding Questions About Google and comScore’s New Partnership

life in the cracksScore one for instant gratification in the measurement of digital advertising. Google has announced an agreement with global ad metrics firm, comScore.

The plan:  Google will integrate comScore’s measurement platform, Validated Campaign Essentials (vCE), into its DoubleClick ad business.

The anticipated result: Google corners the market on big brand advertising by providing instant tracking of online campaigns and consumer behavior. If a marketing initiative isn’t performing as companies had anticipated, quick changes can be made to improve results. Industry execs won’t be waiting 24 hours to receive analytics; the data can be available within minutes or hours.

The integration of vCE will allow Google to drill deep into the segmentation of digital consumers’ habits, preferences, and behaviors. vCE promises agility to brands watching from the sidelines.

In theory, Google hopes to woo advertisers who spend billions of dollars a year on TV out of traditional media and onto the Internet.

Isn’t the web the place where instant gratification is magnified in real time?

But as brands, advertisers, media companies, and tech firms continuously create this trajectory of opportunity that brings immense power, I have to wonder:

  • How are consumers reacting to this news? (Let’s not forget consumers can make or break a brand)
  • In the wake of security breaches and hacking, will a stepped-up level of online monitoring leave a bad taste in the mouths of online shoppers?
  • Are  powerhouse companies like Google considered too ‘sneaky’ for their own good?
  • Will lawmakers try to legislate this piece of our industry?
  • What role, if any, will comScore’s rival Nielsen play in the transformation of TV advertising?

Executives from both Google and comScore say that for now, the multiyear agreement covers display ads and advertising on video and mobile devices. It will likely also extend to future ad products, technology and platforms that Google may develop.

As the advertising and branding landscape transforms at warp speed, we’ll continue to watch the measurement side closely.

The colossal impact that new measurement tools can have on potentially billions of online ads each day brings us into uncharted waters.

Are brands prepared to manage the convergence of instant gratification, agility, and sneaky? Is it even possible?