Google+ may have boasted that it has a rapidly growing userbase and has over 90 million users registering since its June launch, but those figures are masking the real problem felt by the site.
New research from comScore has found that Google+ U.S. users averaged only 3.3 minutes on the site in January, a decrease from the previous months (4.8 minutes in December and 5.1 minutes in November) and only a tiny fraction of the time spent on Facebook (405 minutes or 6.75 hours) during the same period, Bloomberg report.
In comparison, the nearest rivals to Facebook was Pinterest and Tumblr who accounted for 89 minutes of the average time spend on the site. Twitter came further behind with only 21 minutes spent on the site while Linkedin and mySpace followed suit with 17 minutes and 8 minutes respectively.
The huge problem with Google+ is that there's no hook or feature that differentiates it from Facebook and other social media sites. To the casual user, it looks like it's trying to be Facebook and Twitter at the same time while not really having an identity of its own. Building and maintaining a profile on it is seen as work while the lack of regular users means that engagement and community is a frustrating experience.
Despite that things are relatively upbeat for the company with advertising revenue expected to rise to at least $4.76 billion by 2013. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, a Google spokeswoman said that comScore's data is "dramatically lower" than Google's internal data.
Also Google's Vice President of Product Management, Bradley Horowitz, told the same publication that Google+ was designed to be more of a destination site and, because of this, is "extremely hard for any third party to measure. Rather, the site acts as support to Google services, like Gmail and Youtube, by adding a social layer to these services."
Chances are that this is more fighting talk from Google than actual fact but the company won't be pulling the plug on the service any time soon. Google+'s success is one of their long term goals, the data it could potentially receive could be used to develop more targeted adverts, but they'll have to come up with a unique angle or hook to capture imaginations otherwise that 3 minute average will get smaller with each passing month.
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- Image via The Wall Street Journal