Hashtags, Hangouts and Search, Oh My! How Google+ Can Take Over Social Networking
With the Experian Hitwise report that was released last week, it appears as though after a month of rapid and unprecedented growth, Google+ is finally starting to slow down. In less than a month, the new social network reached 20 million unique visitors, exponentially faster than both Twitter and Facebook, which took years to reach that same number. But even with the continued and relentless buzz around the social network, it was an impossible growth rate to maintain.
According to the report: total visits declined about 3 percent (1.86 million to 1.79 million), and average time spent on the site was down 10 percent (5 minutes, 50 seconds to 5 minutes, 15 seconds). “Power users” and users alike have also reported their use in the network decreasing, to most posts being about Google or Google+ itself. But even with the slowdown, these numbers do
not reflect huge drops, and a representative from Experian Hitwise was careful to advise against downplaying the findings.
So is this a bump in the road or has the new car smell permanently worn off? Kevin Rose, CEO of
Milk and founder of Digg, thinks that Google+ is just experiencing growing pains. “This is normal, huge hype bump then comes the valley of real core users,” Rose said via a Google+ post. “The true trend up or down won’t emerge for another 6 months.” Rose, along with numerous other tech celebrities are praising the new social network and have already made the switch from Twitter
Google also recently reported that its second fiscal quarter earnings far surpassed analysts’ estimates, partially due to the launch of Google+. The California-based company amassed a profit of $2.51 billion, up nearly 36 percent from the previous year. So with all this good news, what can Google+ do to keep growing and retaining its user base, and possibly take a stab and dethroning the current social media king, Facebook?
Google+ needs to capitalize on the things it has that Facebook doesn’t, i.e. Hangouts (video chatting with multiple parties), its powerful search engine and its numerous platforms. It also should stress its interface, which is so much simpler and more user friendly than Facebook’s. The most obvious thing that the Google doesn’t even need to do is promote the brand. Everyone knows what Google is, and to some degree sees it as credible. By highlighting these areas and focusing on its ease of use, Google+ can lure users who might be sick of Facebook and more trusting of the Google brand. Here
are some features bothusers and power users would like to see in the future:
- Open Google+ to the public, removing the 5,000 user cap
- Allow brands to make profiles; Ford is one of the only brands that is on the network, but it was only allowed a test account
- Hashtags for easier searching, similar to Twitter
- Integration of other Google platforms (i.e. Google Docs and Calendar) with your circles
- Google+ app for more smartphones and tablets
- More privacy settings
So does Google+ still have the resources and ability to surpass Facebook and Twitter? It seems that it is too soon to tell; but with Google’s hand in every sphere of the Internet, the network does pose a threat to others. Facebook and Twitter beware…