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The Google+ ghost town

google +Google’s CEO Larry Page has announced this year that Google+ has crossed over the 100 million user mark. But am I the only one who is wondering who these users are, and where they’re hiding?

Apparently not. Software developer RJ Metrics has conducted a study into public interactions on Google+ and has published some less than flattering results.

After reviewing the activity of 40,000 users, RJ Metrics reportedly discovered 30% have only made one public post. What’s more, there is a 15% chance users will only ever post five times. On average there’s a gap of 12 days between posts, and on top of that, each post receives less than one +1, reply, or share. Overall, the regular users Google + does have are steadily reducing their activity month by month. Hardly the sort of results you’d expect from a site that has more users than there are people living in Cyprus.

Google have issued a statement in response, insisting more interaction is happening through the site’s private channels than public; making RJ Metrics’ report inaccurate. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to have stopped publications such as Forbes broadcasting the conclusion that Google+ has a large base of very inactive users. So what’s really going on?

The initial idea of Google+ is a good one. It combines all that is popular about Facebook and Twitter with the professional practicality of Linked In, giving users a central hub for all of their social media needs. It also takes existing functions one step further – for example, enabling users to put a +1 button on their external websites, enabling them to generate “likes” outside of their profile pages and improve their Google SEO. Users can also privately target posts to their Circles of contacts, enabling them to keep their work and personal lives separate. It then has its own functions for example, the Hangout sessions where users can have video web-chats with up to 10 people. Not only can they chat in a Hangout, they can all view and edit documents online using Google Docs, use Google’s links to YouTube to watch videos simultaneously, and now even broadcast their Hangout live using the newly released Hangouts On Air.

But this is where I find it gets unclear, as I can’t work out who Google+ is aimed at. Is it businesses looking for easier ways to reach with colleagues around the world? Is it teenagers looking to broadcast their talents to the globe and stream videos? The set-up is very neutral, meaning that it may appear too business-y for casual users, and too relaxed for professionals. After all, would companies want to organise a hangout with investors, or a conference call?

And then there’s the question of do we really need another place to do these things? We can already web-chat using Skype, share videos on YouTube, and communicate via Facebook and Twitter. Maybe this is another reason why people aren’t using Google+ publicly. And of course, if no-one else is doing it, why should they? Maybe it’s just a case of timing, and if Google+ had come before the other social media giants it would’ve been the preferred choice and this blog post would be asking “why use Facebook?”

Despite this I do think Google+ has the potential to be fantastic for companies and individuals alike, if only it had an active user base behind it. It has all the functionality to aid business relations, and the capability to get individuals noticed. We at BlueSky PR haven’t written it off just yet, we have our Google+ page set up and are ready to start connecting with people, but so far it all seems a bit quiet. So why not come and find us? Apparently there are 100 million of you out there, so come out come out wherever you are!

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