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Google Plus A “Ghost Town”? Or Still Being Built?

Hint: It's Not Another Facebook

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Google Plus A “Ghost Town”? Or Still Being Built?
[ Social Media]

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece that compared the popularity of Google Plus with that of Facebook. Despite the “apples vs oranges” nature of that comparison, the WSJ said that Google Plus is a “virtual ghost town” compared to Facebook. They referenced figures from comScore that said that Plus users spent an average of three minutes a month on Google Plus between September and January, versus six or seven hours per month on Facebook.

Do you use Google Plus? Tell us in the comments.

Those numbers need to be questioned. I have no doubt that they are accurate, strictly speaking. But, do they offer any explanation as to why that would be the case?

For example, when Google Plus launched, did you hop on initially, set up a few circles? Did you establish a presence there and check it out for a bit, then go back to where you were? Lots of people I know did that. I did that for a while. It was different from Facebook, and more importantly, it was a different paradigm from Facebook. It wasn’t like moving from Myspace to Facebook, where the idea was basically the same, just some minor differences. Google Plus is a wrench; Facebook is a hammer.

But, despite how many folks have let their Google Plus accounts lie fallow, were they averaged in to comScore’s numbers? You know what happens when you average a big zero in with other numbers. All that proves is that some people who have Plus don’t use it right now. That isn’t all that surprising, nor is it even worrisome. They still have Gmail. they still use Google Docs, Search, etc. When they have a reason to use Plus it will be right there waiting for them.

Do you use Gmail, Docs, Voice or other Google products? How do they help your business? Tell us about it.

Google Plus is not a ghost town. It is a city still being built. When Myspace first started, it took people quite a while to get it cranking, set up their pages, etc. When Facebook opened up to the general public, people were already primed for social networking. They just wanted a “grown-up” way to do it.

But, there have been lots of complaints about Facebook. Trouble is, people are so invested in it, they don’t like the idea of “moving to Google Plus”.

Google Plus is not another Facebook any more than Twitter is. It is a different tool altogether. I don’t even use Google Plus to keep up with my Facebook friends at all.

Of course, it is true that Google has killed off projects that did not fly as they had hoped in the past. Anyone remember Google Answers? Google Lively? Or, more recently, Google Buzz? But, it does not look like Google is putting Plus out to pasture anytime soon. Recently, they expanded the Circles concept into Google Voice.

Plus is a great idea. Facebook even folded some of the best of Plus into their product once they saw the popularity of the concepts. Facebook’s “lists” are very much like Plus’s Circles.

Do you think Facebook is useful for business purposes? Do you use it? Tell us in the comments.

So, don’t look for Plus to go away anytime soon. It’ll be there when you’re ready for it. In fact, go dust it off now. Ask yourself: how could this help me in my work? My hobbies? Did you know that, now that people can share Circles, you could be minutes away from having contact with hundreds of people who have the same hobbies, businesses, interests you do?

See what you’ve been missing. And, you can keep Facebook, too.

Google Plus A “Ghost Town”? Or Still Being Built?
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  • mike

    It’s a ghost town. Period.

    • edi

      yes, it is ghost town. most of ppl who are there (including me) are there because of SERPS implications for our sites

  • http://www.mac-seo-tools.com Glenn Bearsky

    Does Google+ open up a unique compelling _something_ I can’t do on FaceBook? NO. Is anyone hanging out on G+ that is NOT on FaceBook? Essentially, NO. So what’s the point of everyone going ‘Next Door’ to have the same party with a different backdrop? There isn’t any.

    • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Captain Cyberzone

      Well said and on the money.

      • http://www.trishjones.com Trish Jones

        Wow, well said!

  • Chirag

    Nicely explained. Great insights.
    Where do I +1 ?

  • david

    What’s FaceBook?

  • Wallie

    I wouldn’t call it a ghost town at all. I’m on it all the time having awesome discussions with hundreds of people with similar interests. In my news circle I have pages like New York Times, Boston Globe, Today, and other news outlets and in the comments section of posts I get to discuss with other people also interested in the subject. A lot of my favorite musicians are on G+ as well and I get to read posts about new albums and tours. I get all my news, entertainment, and current events through Google Plus. When twitter first came out for the first year or so the only people using it were people in the media or bloggers or journalists. You wouldn’t go to twitter and find all of your Facebook or myspace friends but no one called it a ghost town. It just needs more time to come into its own.

  • http://gardenofcleta.tech-fyi.net/ Cleta

    I don’t see how it could be considered a ghost town when I open my google plus 24 hours a day and see 1,000′s of post I would not count that as a ghost town I see it as a site with very intellectual content, tech news , lots of great photography and I saw the most wonderful thing the other day a child was in the hospital could not get outside to enjoy it someone decided to do a hangout and go for a walk and let the child see what they saw it was so awesome.People have meetings, cooking classes etc in google plus hangouts I think you really need to go back and research this more before you classify it as a ghost town.
    Thank you :)

  • http://www.travellerspoint.com Peter

    I tend to think of G+ as something more like Twitter, but without the silly 140 character restriction.

    I have 5 times the number of contacts on G+ compared to Facebook. And in the next few months, I’ll have more contacts on G+ than Twitter.

    My G+ stream is active, people are engaged and it feels far less spammy than what Twitter is these days.

    The people who think G+ is a ghost town are pretty much the same people who logged on to Twitter and “didn’t get it”.

    But it doesn’t really matter to me because I’ve had great engagement through the platform, better than I’ve ever had through Twitter. And with more new contacts than Facebook ever could / can deliver.

    Most awesome ghost-town ever ;)

  • Verda

    Google+ is the most exciting website. It’s not a ghost town at all and not a bit awkward when people ‘add you as friends’.

  • Ha ha ha

    Lol @ google employees

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/mike-tuttle Mike Tuttle

      Google employees: lol all the way to the bank.

  • bhere

    I like your story, however your example gives 1.2 hours a month per person. That is 72 minutes/month a person. Comscore is talking about 3 minutes …

    So let’s do a more realistic math:

    From 200 people coming to G+, only 2 people are fanatic 7 hours a month users, where the other 198 leave right after signing up.
    So of each 200 people signing up at G+, only 2 persons are using it as much as the AVERAGE Facebook user (7 hours a month)…

    These numbers are more revealing:
    That is more like something isn’t working out like it was meant to be.

    I am not a Facebook user, nor a big Twitter user.
    However the facts so far (as we get it) are telling me that you tend to be too positive compared to what reality is telling us.

    I am afraid history might be repeating itself.

    10-13 years ago Microsoft was losing ground, but they didn’t notice right away as they where surrounded by likeminded people who where still enthousiastic about their products. Google might be dealing with a blind spot on this for the same reasons. Let’s see. Time will tell.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/mike-tuttle Mike Tuttle

      The math wasn’t intended to be proportional. Rather it was intended to be a basic example of how using averages to represent trends is dangerous without consideration of other factors. Google can afford to sit on Plus for a long time while it finds its audience, even if that ends up just being professionals.

      Google Plus: Social networking.

      Facebook: Farmville.

      • bhere

        Ok.
        But the math that we are talking about here is beyond just the danger of interpreting averages.
        Factors not included by the Comscore data for G+ are not included for the other players as well. So ceteris paribus, Google+ as a social networking phenomenon is lacking something, and I don’t mean features per se.

        Reading around the web I get the sence that the people at the plex are thinking more about “What is missing at Google+?” and “How to get eyeballs on Google+“. The potential average user is more thinking like “What is Google+?”, “What is in it for me?”.

        It’s like Google is taking it’s business and services as the starting point where the other, more succesfull social services are looking at it more from the user perspective. These 2 approaches both deal with quite the same parameters but they both will have entirely different results.

        • http://www.webpronews.com/author/mike-tuttle Mike Tuttle

          I agree with you wholeheartedly that they are asking the wrong question. I see Plus used much more for people with specific careers focus or hobby focus. A gathering of like minds, that are not necessarily “friends”.

          One of the worst paradigms that came into being when Plus was launched was that it was a replacement for Facebook. I thought it was too. It is not. It is more akin to LinkedIn than Facebook, in terms of “what’s in it for me”.

      • Reed

        Google Plus: Social networking.

        Facebook: Farmville.

        You totally lost me with that last bit of petulance. Rather than coming off as a legitimate commentator who is arguing that G+ is significant, you sound like a community college dorm rat who hates FB because it’s popular. I think you can do better.

        • http://www.webpronews.com/author/mike-tuttle Mike Tuttle

          Not intending to convey that at all. I don’t hate Facebook. I just think that, despite their attempts at courting “brands”, Facebook is more suited for leisure than business. More for socializing than social networking. My brief stab at that apparently didn’t convey that thought. Your invective made me a better person and the world a better place today. Thank you.

  • Jason

    It’s not a ghost town. “Ghost town” would imply that people were there to begin with and went away.

    • kate swanson

      This made me actually laugh out loud, Jason. Well said!!

  • Reed

    I read both the WSJ piece and this commentary, and although the Journal may overstate the dearth of activity on G+, the truth is not that far off. Fanboys and haters aside, the truth is that G+ just doesn’t have that much activity. I really want G+ to succeed, but all the rationalization one can muster does not mitigate the fact that it is basically an empty (or at least sparsely populated) arena where the most prominent ear to hear your shout is your own, as it echoes back.

    FB is a chatterbox containing the sound and fury of party pics and dime store political rants, signifying nothing. I always feel as if I’ve wandered into a kegger and all these people are inhibition-less, but rather than opting for silly and/or lascivious behavior, they’re ever at the ready to discuss the minutia of their lives. I have absolutely no interest in what people are purchasing for lunch at the local Taco Bell, so I eschew the self-indulgent Twittersphere. Pinterest is for women – a virtual hen party.

    I was hoping Google+ would be different – a social arena where weightier and more relevant discussions would occur. Maybe some of you people are experiencing that, but all I’m seeing is links to The Verge (Cool new technology!!!) and the occasional interesting news story. I have hungout a grand total of once.

    I have no horse in this game. I neither love G+ nor hate it. The same is true for FB (not Twitter…I do hate Twitter). I’m just calling it as I see it, and at the moment, when I look at G+, I see emptiness and hear silence.

  • http://www.mkmoto.co.uk mk

    Unfortunately, for me anyway, G+ does seem a bit of a ghost town. I hate FB, and no longer have an account on there (although I do have to have a page for my business – would be stupid not to). I love the layout of google+, and the idea. In fact if more actually happened on there, or there was more than 3 people I actually knew in the real world who had accounts, I’m sure it could be used more to it’s potential. Unfortunately though, I think it will fail and it seems that G are just using techies & SEO’s & such to promote it for them, by convincing us G+ and plusone’s will have a huge impact on search. Sure, maybe they will but if it’s only SEO’s and the like who will be using it, it will soon become very spammy.

  • http://www.googleplus.co.uk Tun

    I own the .co.uk of Googleplus and I can tell you now – my web stats on the domain Googleplus.co.uk is now dead.

    Google have failed!! Facebook will not be moved in anyway shape or form. There is just tooo much personal content invested on the site.

    NB: Once Facebook moves into search, Google as a whole will die.

    • bhere

      Google won’t die easily, although they might feel too comfortable about their current market position.
      Don’t be surprised if a sudden change in this landscape, because of a decent competitor, may catch them by surprise.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/OneFineArt William MATAR

    I use Google plus from Lebanon and very satisfied and getting good results from it… a tv interview and an article in press.

  • Luis

    Everyone applauded G+ for the control you have, and the privacy you can set up, but in the end people realized being that private wasnt what they really wanted. And we know privacy isnt really the issue with Google’s new privacy policy.

    In this world I have come you gotta be careful who you dis google too, their fans are pretty fanatical.

  • Jessie

    I read this article and decided to check out my page for the first time in months. As I expected, there were no adds to be in anyone’s circle, and the last post from a friend came in November. There’s such a thing as being too bare bones, and when I first joined, it was difficult to even find people.

    Also, this hot on G+ stuff is something that seems like it would be incredibly frustrating. I don’t care about some stranger posting a picture. It seems like G+ is the place to be for internet friends and nothing else.

  • Patrick Hutton

    I’d love to know whether the data used to show that Google+ is a ‘Ghost Town’ just use public posts. If so, it’s not taking into account non-public postings which are only seen and commented on by intended recipients.

  • http://ndesignsproductions.w3page.net/ Nahomy

    I don’t like G+ that much.
    I agree, I think it’s a virtual ghost town.

  • http://www.tden.com King Ralph

    Another internet landfill.

  • http://www.reynoldspest.com Brian Reynolds

    I really like the G+ format, and I have found the many experts in my Circles to be helpful and rewarding to my business and personal interests. I like Facebook as well, and feel that Facebook serves a different social function in the ever changing internet world and should not be pitted against one another,

  • http://windowashin.com Steven B.

    I just use G+ to recommend stuff to my friends. I actually use G+ more than Facebook because FB is so pathetically immature for my tastes.

  • http://rs-geo.orgfree.com/ Sergey

    I think that Google + in the beginning of a way and will reach большего, than Facebook. Possibilities Google as corporations more than Facebook. At Facebook there are no such possibilities for expansion and integration, as at Google. Through any time Facebook or will begin expansion of services and possibilities, or will search for the new owner.

  • http://love-handle-workouts.blogspot.com/ Love Handle Workouts

    I use G+ as well. I think the problem as stated many times, G+ is not another facebook and people are trying to compare the two. I have used G lively, Google Answers, and the Google Buzz. I think google is trying to find another home run, I think if they let this one ride it will do great.

  • http://www.futurohouse.com Len

    I prefer LinkedIn… I dont use Google+ and only have lmited use for Facebook.. but overall find all these sites are useless and just a way to pass time when absolutely nothing better to do on a cold winter day :)

  • http://www.gbepackaging.com Tony

    Well we have thousands of sales every week and our google+ button has 2 whole clicks. It is clear no one is paying our customers to click buttons and their only goal in mind is to save money on products they use and need daily. So why again do you think social media is important? Word of mouth, quality products and low prices are what our customers expect from the internet. They are not going to worry too much if our buttons are there or not or if they are clicked or not. Its our experience that if we pay people or bribe people to click our buttons would be the only way to get clicks. If you think we are mistaken then please go to our site and click our button. lol

  • https://plus.google.com/107644130998885530895/about Peter Meyer

    What I like most about Google+ is that it is not Facebook (which must be the greatest time-wasting device ever invented, but heaven for narcissists who assume that the rest of the world wants to hear about everything they do).

    I’ve had a G+ account for a month or two but don’t have a lot of use for it. I don’t need a ‘news’ feed because I already know where to go for news. I’d like to include people I know in my circles, but so far I’ve only been able to find four people.

    I find the “+1″ statistics to be rather obscure, and inconsistent with the “+1″ count on my websites. I have four (each of them has only one +1 button). For only one of them is the “+1″ count (almost, 17 or 18) the same as the ‘Audience’ number (the number of people who have +1′d my site) in the stats. Google says my ‘Hermetic Systems’ site has been +1′d by 4 people but the +1 count shows just 2. My ‘Serendipity’ site is most puzzling, because Google says 6 people have +1′d it, but the +1 count on the home page keeps oscillating between 0 and 1. I’d like to know why.

  • Wendy Stever

    MY G+ is no where near a ghost town. It is also nothing like Facebook –

    If YOUR G+ is a ghost town, then you aren’t using it correctly.

    For me G+ is a place to find, interact and learn from people of a common interest. Mine is photography.

    How can a stream that moves so fast that it is almost impossible to keep track of all the posts a ghost town?

  • http://www.d2studios.com David Derr

    Google+ is still growing. People probably said the same thing when Facebook knocked MySpace out of the top spot. Frankly Google+ is positioning itself strongly for when Facebook finally takes that one step that will piss off most of their member. It’s getting close. A lot of people I know are doing a slow migration to Google+, Facebook has lost touch with the “real” needs of their members and has focused too much figuring out how to mine more information for their clients. If they don’t watch out the same thing that happened to MySpace will happen to them.

    • http://www.google.com/profiles/OneFineArt William MATAR

      Agree David.. I love Google Plus very beautiful and useful

  • http://www.abaloriosygemas.com Ros

    It just doesn’t seem to have a natural, friendly feel about it but feels more formal and business-like. Haven’t taken to it yet……

  • Wally

    it sounded to me like the article writer works for google!

    Google + is lame, nobody is there. Facebook is also lame too though.

    People really need to get outside!

    My local bar has WAY better “circles” than any so-called “social” network….

  • http://www.nigeriansreport.com/ Orikinla Osinachi

    Any dummy can be on Facebook and Facebook is full of cloned profiles and pages of mostly retarded people and fansites of personalities with fake friends approved simply to address their egos and insecurities. But Google Plus is for REAL PEOPLE with REAL PROFILES and REAL FRIENDS.
    It is only a ghost town to the ignorant multitudes who think it is another Facebook.

    • Tom Stam

      Wow, funniest article I’ve read recently. Ok, I use facebook once a week now and looks like it might be once a month soon, I post pics of me picking my nose on twitter, and I tried to use Google plus and immediately wanted to uninstall that useless piece of manure on the spot. This social network faze is what it is, a stoopid dorky fad. If you’re a guy and you use any of these social media sites, go check yourself. Now you have companies like yelp, zynga (makers of farmville and mafia wars on facecrap) coming on the market and being evaluated at a billion dollars for losing money. Just like the dot coms crashed in 2000 so will these social network stupidities. One sec, I’m going to dust off my house in google plus lol. Anyhow google looks like it tried to become something it wasn’t, I could have saved the billions of dollars by telling them no one will ever use google plus or any of that useless crap they are trying to make. 4 years ago when I was having problems getting my site to show up in google searches the only support I received was from a so called google employ in their forums who acted like I was just another asshole who needed help, suck on it now google, should have stuck with mastering searches and maps, the only thing people need you for, and stop spamming the net and YouTube with those ugly looking 2 line ads, because no ones even clucking on them.

  • http://www.daisywright.com Career Coach Daisy

    I jumped on the Google+ bandwagon early and found it more ‘intellectually engaging’ as someone mentioned before. I like the fact it does not limit my comments to 140 characters and I have more followers than I do on Facebook, even though I joined FB in 2008. Personally, in order of engagement for me, it’s Twitter and LinkedIn, and a tie with Google+ and FB.

    So, I wouldn’t label G+ as a ghost town as yet, but it sure needs to beef up its messaging so people can pinpoint the key difference between them and the others.

  • http://www.petphotoartist.com Noah

    Another time waster. Google should do what it does best. Give search results.

    There seems to be no end in the collection of personal information, privacy abuse and domination of the internet.

    Money is the madness.

  • http://prizeless.net Sochdeveloper

    To me google plus is much smarter and purpose oriented and use it happily everytime

  • http://azzlsoft.com Rich Miles

    “But, despite how many folks have let their Google Plus accounts lie fallow, were they averaged in to comScore’s numbers? You know what happens when you average a big zero in with other numbers. All that proves is that some people who have Plus don’t use it right now.”

    Doesn’t the existence of a “big zero” imply a ghost town? You can’t tout a large number of “users” but only count the active users in your engagement.

    On another note, why can’t you compare Google+ to Facebook (“apples vs. oranges” you say with no explanation)? If more people understood what was different about Google+ then perhaps more people would use it.

  • http://www.ghidwww.ro webmaster

    no. I don’t use Google Plus. When Google Plus launched I really wanted to see what is about.. to see if it can compare with Facebook.. so I spent a few weeks then I realized that there is no more something that could be interesting..

  • http://irealter.com Robert Harrington

    I like google, however I the article is spot on. I open my google page and this whole google plus thing comes up and I have no idea what they want me to do except spend time on another learning curve and guys…I am timed out.

  • http://www.makemoneyteam.com Raymond

    I can vouch for the wasteland comparison to some extent. It really does seem like Google+ is far less active than Facebook or even sites like Stumbleupon in my experience.

  • http://www.theramblingepicure.com/ Jonell Galloway

    I use Google+ a lot, but my foodie friends just haven’t picked up on it, so for my work as a food writer and editor, the spark seems to missing. Somebody needs to get the food world to latch onto it somehow.

  • Corrine

    Google Plus? What’s that?

  • Blaine Dixon

    It is very difficult to use and not intuitive at all.I set up accounts something would go wrong so I deleted and started over but the old accounts did not delete. I still have one but I don’t go there its too aggravating to try to use, it sure seems a ghost town. To my thinking one why reinvent the wheel.

  • http://www.melchinger.com John Melchinger

    Three things about me: I am 64, now officiate weddings, and was 32 years a private practice marketing consultant to independent financial planners. Facebook was constantly irritating me with its mindless “innovations” that they demanded/insisted I bow to. No thanks. I closed my personal Facebook page and left my wedding business page up. That is useful.

    I use LinkedIn to stay informed about my financial business contacts. LinkedIn is more professional with its collection of professional users, and I believe that population is smaller and more business oriented than Facebook ever will be or wants to be.

    I just started using Google+ so I have lots to learn, but for me it is more intuitive and potentially useful than Faecbook and it lets me tap any other system/social media I care to. So far I like it a lot. I am inviting friends and colleagues to join, but must wait and see how they view it.

  • http://gsm-1.ir reza

    pleaes add my web sit.tanks

  • http://www.managingyourhealthonline.com Kathy

    I use Google + a lot and I don’t see it as a ghost town at all. I prefer it to Facebook because I like the professionalism and quality of interaction.

  • http://www.learn-new-skills-from-home.com ECDL

    I have only been using G+ for a while compared to Facebook, Linkedin but it seems to be getting bigger. Just could take a while to take off.


    ECDL

  • http://www.aryannaskiosk.com Herbert Adams

    Google+ is not another Facebook. I do see it as beeing another choice for the consumer. In time it will give Facebook some think of when making policy. Competition is good for the comsumer.

  • http://www.malteseclocks.comze.com/ Joseph

    I have used Google Circles once. I could not figure out an easy way of sharing photos, videos and the like.

  • http://www.dirtworks.net John meshna

    I signed up for google plus but don’t use it because it is too hard to access and hard to use and seems redundant and requires more time I don’t have to spare. now, if they made it some how cross platformed to facebook so if I were on facebook or over there and found something I wanted to share across the two of them I could do it with a click then that would be great.

  • http://www.homohominisacrares.net Jesus

    I think Google is a Search engine whereas Facebook is a social network. Facebook cannot compete with its search engine against Google search engine and Google cannot compete with its social network against Facebook. I have an account in Google + but I used Facebook as a network.

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