Google knows better than most that getting social networking to work is not as easy as it may seem – even if you already have a huge user base to draw from.
Google’s latest attempt to dislodge Facebook from its lofty perch is of course Google+, but figures suggest that users are not engaging with the platform in the volume Google would have been hoping for.
According to research from Chitika, a data analytics company, following the service opening its doors to all on 20 September last, it saw a spike in traffic of 1,200 per cent but this spike was only temporary with traffic falling by over 60 percent “as it returned to its normal, underwhelming state.”
These figures would suggest that a lot of people were very interested in “having a look” at Google+ but not many stayed to use the service for very long. Chitika says that it believes there are two reasons for the lack of interest.
First, the supply of users for social media sites is limited and therefore to win users from already established networks like Facebook, you need to “stand out and provide a service that others do not.”
Secondly, features unique to your site, should be just that, and should be difficult to replicate elsewhere. “If they are not, the competitive advantage quickly disappears,” according to Chitika’s Gabe Donnini.
Despite adding a lot of new features in quick succession and holding Hangouts with famous figures, Google+ just doesn’t seem to have captured the imagination and the question we get asked most often about the service is: “What is it for?”
While these figures represent a fall off in traffic rather than a fall off in actual users, Google has been rather quiet on that front since revealing in mid-July the service had 10 million users, sharing 1 billion items each day.
With Google Buzz and Google Wave already lying on the social networking scrap heap, it could be that Google+ is the company’s last chance at social networking success – and if figures don’t improve, Hangouts may soon be a thing of the past.