Analysts argue about whether or not Google+ can overtake Facebook, but they’re missing the point

by: Nate SwannerJune 27, 2013

Google Plus + Logo 1600 aa

What good is social media?

The real aim is to engage people with similar interests, right? Maybe get a different point of view, or expand your horizons a touch. Some people aren’t worth the time it takes to say “hi”, and others fascinate us thoroughly.

The real question that seems to dominate is where we accomplish all of this personal growth and exploration. The “Facebook sucks” or “Google+ is a ghost town” comments rage on, and are defended by believers of either service. Whatever our reasons for being where we are in social media, we’re there for a purpose. Be it Reddit, Flickr, Facebook, Google+, MySpace (yeah, it still exists!), or wherever we go, the purpose is always the same.

But, why do we choose where we are? Maybe it’s sheer numbers, or maybe another factor. Google+ users may choose to be there because it’s not Facebook, and has a very different crowd. Facebook users may stay for the sheer number of members, as is evident by the “my family is all there” reasoning you get when people are asked why they prefer Facebook over other social media.

Google is quick to counter with overall user numbers, claiming that about 400 million users engage across all of their social brands.

Marcus Tober, founder of Searchmetrics, thinks Facebook’s reign of supremacy is coming to a close. According to him, Google+’s rapid growth will cause it to usurp Facebook in early 2016. That’s interesting commentary, considering Facebook has one billion users, and Google+ checks in with about one-fifth of that. While he points to the quick uptick in Google+ membership as the reason for his premonition, others consider that metric hollow.

“That is idiotic”, says Michael Pachter of Wedbush. His reasoning for that was engagement, noting that while Facebook’s growth has slowed, users are still locked-in. According to Pachter, “Google+ users average 11 minutes per month of use, compared to Facebook’s 400. Google almost forces you to sign up when you have Gmail, but nobody really uses Google+.”

While Google+ may not be the Facebook killer we all assumed it could be, it has a place.

Google is quick to counter with overall user numbers, claiming that about 400 million users engage across all of their social brands. Be it YouTube, Google+, Gmail, or other mediums like the Chrome Web Store or Play Store, users are commenting and interacting.

The knock is legitimate, too: sign up for a Gmail account, and you’re tied into all of Google’s services. It’s sneaky, but also a sublime way to make it easy for users to engage. We can all remember a Gmail password, so why not use it for all Google services?

While Google+ may not be the Facebook killer we all assumed it could be, it has a place. More importantly, it has a place in many different locations. Google+ was always meant to be the social spine running through all Google services, and is shaping itself in that mold. As Google works to integrate Google+ comments through websites and blogs, the reaching effects of that one brand are starting to be realized. Comment in one place, and you’ve reached a wider audience. Google, and by virtue Google+, has begun to transcend social media as it stands. With such a reaching effect, Google is keen to not tie you into one site as a means of interacting or engaging.

Most users probably don’t consider YouTube a social entity, or sending an email as engaging.

Which brings into question the metric of time spent interacting and engaging. If we compare all of Google’s social services to Facebook, how do the numbers look at that point? Are they even, or maybe slightly tilted in Google’s direction? Most users probably don’t consider YouTube a social entity, or sending an email as engaging. They’re just part of our life, and we probably don’t consider them social, but they are.

So is Google+ going to overthrow Facebook? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter. Google is a company comprised of a litany of services, not a social media website. Whether you comment on a funny YouTube video, or leave a review for a favorite restaurant, you’re using Google in a social way.

I just got an email from YouTube. It landed under the “Social” tab in my Gmail. Point made, Google.

  • satsmine2k4

    hangouts will be a major weapon which could help G+ be successful over other Social apps…

    • emanuele_zanetti

      it needs some refining, but i think it’s awesome, and the fact that comes with a native client for Windows/Mac (and I hope Linux in the future), other than the native chrome extension, is awesome too, I really like it.

  • Benjamin Pavel

    Google+ is clean social network with very smart and inspiring people and i hope it will stay like that.
    And let those “Swag-boys-girls, trash talking people, internet trols” all that society garbage stay on Facebook. =)

    • MasterMuffin

      Exactly, I don’t want even half of those people from FB to come to G+

      • emanuele_zanetti

        fortunately they will never come, IMHO, because G+ is not “swaggy”, it is not trendy/cool/etc.. , it’s meant for something else, like it was said in the article, it’s a different kind of “social” thing, something that those idiotic people will never comprehend, so they will stick with Facebook, where they truly belong.

    • Vishal Khedkar

      That’s the best point: G+ is clean! I love it more than Facebook. G+ is for professionals ;)

  • Otto Andersson

    I don’t like Google plus. They are copying some of the worst parts of Facebook that too users of their privacy rights. I still have not really found use for it.

  • Rogeross Beraña

    i spend more time in google plus now.. the contents i see in g+ are a lot better than the ones in facebook

    • mrjayviper

      what kind of content?

      • Stuntman06

        Pretty much topics that I am interested in. For me, it’s technology, the various games that I play, and tennis. I find the Google communities allow me to connect with people who share interests with me.

      • Rogeross Beraña

        same with what Stuntman said….

  • Cristi13

    No, a lot of people are using these social networks (especially fb) for their desire of being “popular”,”cool” up until a point they become mindless bastards…

  • emanuele_zanetti

    the thing I love most of G+ is its type of connection between people. It’s domething like Twitter’s, If I found someone’s posts interesting I don’t need to be “his/her friend” and I don’t need that someone to follow what I post, I just can keep track of what he/she is posting.
    anyway, yeah, I don’t think G+ will ever overcome Facebook, but that’s not a problem, not for me; I don’t care if the social network I’m using has 100 or 100 billion people as long as I can find some people that shares something I like to read/watch/listen.

  • Stuntman06

    As an active user on both Google+ and Facebook, I would say that people have a misconception that G+ is a FB replacement. I don’t believe that either of these social networks will replace the other for the way I use it for.

    Facebook is designed to connect you to people whom you personally know or have known at some point in your life. FB calls the people you connect with “friends” for that reason. It is assumed you know them at some level and you can add specific relationship links between people.

    Google+ is much more generic in terms of the people you connect with. It doesn’t try to pigeon hole you in how you should use it. I think many people get on it and just get confused because there is no clear direction on how you use it. I explored around and starting with my nearby feed, ended up building my own circles of people who are active. The communities in G+ is what caused G+ to really picked up for me. Ever since then, I’ve spent more time on G+ than FB. These communities connect me with people who share the same interest as me. That is something that makes conversations on G+ more engaging than on FB.

    I don’t see my abandoning FB for G+ (or vice versa). Neither social network can replace the other for me.

  • nishantsirohi123

    The usage of google+ and FB is very different
    Things posted on Google Plus make sense and while it may seem like less content
    the content itself is rational, and more interesting. it is lot easier to find articles thanks to the hashtag support since day 1
    FB has hashtags but i still cant find a way to find anything with them

    Fb has been cluttered with odd-angled-duck-face-in-the-bathroom-selfies-taken-with-phonecamera

  • Sal

    Google Plus is very clean and refreshing than Facebook. Everyday whenever i login in to facebook im only interested in seeing what my friends and family are up through thier pictures that they upload or the statues they put up. But now things have changed. There is so much drama everywhere, i see very few statues from my friends and family but more endless posts of my friends liking this and sharing that from a certain page and since Vine was out things have been worse. almost all of them share this and share that and it all comes from Vine. its all cluttering my newsfeed and it gets tiring scolling and keep seeing posts that originally was uploaded on Vine. oh yeah sponsered ads. Which is why ive turned to twitter and G + to use more for the summer than Facebook but the bad thing is ive got G+ set up and choosing my circles but it just feels dead to me due to the fact that no one i know is on here but i guess i gotta do something add people withing the community from somewhere.