« Return to Blog

Will Google+ Catch Facebook?

In September 2011, after a frenzied invitation-only preview, Google finally launched its Google+ social network.

The early signs were that this would be the beginning of a social-media power shift, with millions of disillusioned Facebook users making the move to Google+, the future of social media.

However, early indications of growth were quickly displaced by a weight of critical review. Google+ was thought to be rather bland, unhelpful and insufficiently persuasive to challenge other established social networks. It wasn’t entirely clear what niche G+ filled, not what it’s unique selling points were. It was beginning to seem that Google+ had arrived too late at the the social media party.

By 2013, the world of social networking is delicately poised. By and large, we’re still using the same social media platforms that we were 5 years ago. The nervousness caused by Facebook’s stock flotation and privacy regulations appear not to have caused the mass exodus that some media critics were anticipating. The networks have evolved, adapted and diversified to maintain user interest, and perhaps even succeeded in establishing a habitual user loyalty that will be harder to break than was once anticipated.

The statistics are fascinating: Facebook currently yields 701 million active users, Google+ 359 million and Twitter 297 million.

However, this only tells half a story.

Facebook claim to have over 1 billion active users, whilst Google claimed in December that around 500 million had signed up for G+.

Google have successfully encouraged users from other popular Google services, including Youtube, to create G+ accounts. This means that only around 135 million G+ users were actively posting to their Google+ pages, with a large percentage of active users engaging with some of the network’s features. There’s clearly quite a discrepancy between being an active, committed user and clicking on the occasional ‘+1’ to show that you’ve enjoyed an article.

The growth statistics also make for interesting reading. It appears that Twitter is actually growing faster than Google+, with around 44% growth in the last year alone.

Implications for Web Designers

Whilst undertaking web design projects for clients we’re often asked about the big questions about social media. How can we use social networks to increase sales? Which social media platforms should we be using? Is it necessary to use more than one social network?

It’s helpful to know the latest statistics about social networks, particularly as you develop a social media strategy for your company. That said, the key will always be to identify which social media platforms you want to use, and then finding the most effective way to connect with people.

The most successful brands are currently using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest in very different ways to build very different audiences. There really is no substitute for knowing the audience that you want to connect with, and then communicating your message in the most clear and helpful way for that group of people. Engaging with a variety of social networks will also significantly help your SEO, with search engines being influenced more and more by social media.

Will Google+ catch Facebook? Many people don’t think so, but in the changing world of social media only time will tell…