Is Google Plus a Ghost Town? Seems so…

There’s been many articles written about how good, bad and indifferent Google+ is.  But our favourite debate is the ongoing It’s Really Popular Vs It’s A Ghost Town one.

So what’s the truth?  Our findings and infographic (see below) appear to suggest the latter: despite its large number of accounts, G+ is bottom of the list of social network users’ favoured channels.

Google, of course, claims it is fast-growing and really popular.  Why wouldn’t they? And, of course, there is research to support that argument. But does this chart, left, for example, which shows the rise in G+ unique visitors, tell the whole truth?

Let’s face it, you don’t actually have to be a G+ user to view a post on G+.  So, there’s every chance that a post uploaded to G+ and then posted on, say, Twitter or Facebook, is being veiwed by hundreds or thousands of people who have never logged in or created a G+ account, nor perhaps never will.

And does this explain why, according to ComScore, G+ users spend just 3.3 minutes per month on the site, compared with 7.5 hours – hours – per month on Facebook? ie is G+ traffic transient, clicking on a link, reading it and moving back to their Facebook/ Twitter stream?

So, we decided to do our own research.  It is by no means exhaustive and is only meant as a snapshot view, so judge for yourself.

Google hasn’t released active user stats or levels of engagement, but they have confirmed on their own blog that there are 170m G+ accounts.  To put that into context, it puts G+ second behind Facebook (901m: recently updated to 955m) and ahead of LinkedIn (161m) and Twitter (140m) in terms of official user accounts (see links below).

If these official user figures are accurate, you might surmise that levels of activity – such as sharing stories, for example – would mirror user stats ie the more users, the more people sharing content on that network.

Not so.

We analysed 100 random online entertainment, health, business, technology and general news stories and looked at how many times each story was shared by Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter users.

The stories were taken at random by three staff from Umpf using websites including The Independent, Telegraph, Forbes, CBS News, Evening Standard, Mashable and TechCrunch.  The only criteria was that the site had to have a share counter showing all four networks as a minimum.

We then worked out, on an average per user per channel basis, the propensity of a social media user to share a story on either Facebook, G+, LinkedIn or Twitter.

For every 100 million users, the following number were likely to share an online story:

Twitter, 197.3 people were likely to share an online story
Facebook, 41.8 people were likely to share an online story
LinkedIn, 15.2 people were likely to share an online story
Google+, 6.0 people were likely to share an online story

Or, in other words:

LinkedIn is 2.5 times more effective than G+ for sharing
Facebook is 7 times more effective than G+ for sharing
Twitter is 33 times more effective than G+ for sharing

Our infographic visualises the Umpf findings and the full press release is below.

[Source: Umpf Blog]

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