In late July we posted about the new and promising social networking site, Google+. We already saw that Google is trying to reach out to new and unexplored areas to extend their power over the Internet: we got Google mail, Buzz, Sketch, Chrome, and much more, but we are starting to see a downward spiral as well. Or am I being too dramatic? Maybe, but Google+ seemed to be a one night stand.
Google+ was only available for a relatively small group in the beginning. You could only get a membership with an invitation (or you could hope to get in even if you got the invitation). The indigoline team was part of Google+ in July, 2 months before the official start of the social networking site. We tried it out, the circle stuff seemed nice, and it offered great options to help us differentiate our “friends” and the news feed they posted. For example I could easily create a circle for my family, for 3d related stuff, for web stuff and change between them when I wanted to read news and posts. It works like an exclusive RSS feed.
The user number grew incredibly fast for Google+, in just a few months it reached 25 million, it was roughly 10 times better than the statistics of Myspace, and 20 times better than Facebook. This number is around 40-50 million today, but the popularity of the site is not ongoing. Quite the opposite, it fell quickly. The traffic of the site’s been less and less, however it gains new users every day. This shows a big problem: people are not sticking with the new Google+, they are going back to the old and comfy Facebook, or other social networking sites.
When did this happen?
The thing is that this was a foreseeable problem from the start. Chikita posted about the failure of Google+ a few times showing graphs that show the decline in traffic. The latest was released on the 14th of October, showing that the 100% peak was around the 20th of September, when the site launched for the wide public, but this was a huge peak that couldn’t sustain itself. We see that just days before and after lifting the registration limit the number of active users dropped 60% which is huge. And this trend seems to continue.
But this is not a new thing. It happened before this as well: Dreamgrow posted a graphs before the official opening, and it shows a similar trend. In the beginning when it was new a lot of people tried out Google+, browsed around, and did stuff, but the traffic quickly fell to 50% after an initial growth.
Why did this happen?
After the surge the traffic fell a lot, and there are several possibilities this happened. One major answer is that Google+ has nothing new to offer. It’s new, not all our friends are on it (like in the case of Facebook), and it mimics Facebook basically, with a few changes. Google did nothing innovative, nothing new to captivate users, it only gave a new skin to something we are already used to. And it gave itself a giant competitor: Facebook, which always updates itself, has new stuff to offer and has more than half a billion users.
While I could easily say that making a new and innovative website would’ve made Google rich(er), I won’t say it because it’s not the truth. Renewing an old and already familiar idea could be successful as well making a completely new and innovative idea. And they can be both a failure. This happened to Google Buzz. The shutdown of Buzz was stated on the 14th of October, and official reasons are that they need the space to focus on Google+. However we all have to admit that while Google Buzz was something new it didn’t really have a purpose. It was like a bad chat system. You had a new platform to go to (and you already had Google Talk, or MSN or any other chat system, even within Facebook), and it was not convenient. It had the advantage of making your messages coherent, and connecting, and available after you’ve made them. But you could do the same with an email chain. And it only depends on you whether it is coherent or not. You can as easily mess up the Buzz system as well.
Is it over?
After saying all this I don’t really think it’s over for Google+. It’s a great new thing, and it has influence, and even a big user base. If you use Gmail (and most of us do), then you’ll always see the Google+ notifications on the top of the site making you want to go back from time to time.
It’s also a great tool for keeping yourself updated. I find it a great marketing tool. I follow a lot of 3d designers, and web gurus, putting them on different circles. This way I can easily keep myself updated with various personal and world news, and I also have the chance that they will follow back and view my news and the stuff I have to offer.