Is Google+ a ghost town or a city under construction?

I have seen this two controversial articles, each of which with an opposite opinion to what  Google+ is today and where it may be heading to.  What do you think?

The Google+ ‘ghost town’ has plenty of life left

Charles Cooper
by Charles Cooper 

 New ComScore stats are getting pressed into service as Exhibit A to sound the alarm over the future of Google’s social network. I’m not buying it.

For some reason — maybe it has to do with the limitations of human cognition — we have a predisposition toward making this-or-that characterizations: Ginger or Mary Ann? Bird or Magic? Facebook or Google+?

Facebook or Google+?

Yep. That one’s getting trotted out today by the Wall Street Journal, which seized upon new ComScore data to present Google’s (relatively new) social network as a “virtual ghost town.”

The Mounting Minuses at Google+

Playing Catch-up to Facebook, Google’s Social Network Is a Virtual Ghost Town

To hear Google Inc. Chief Executive Larry Page tell it, Google+ has become a robust competitor in the social networking space, with 90 million users registering since its June launch.

But those numbers mask what’s really going on at Google+.

Google+ is a virtual ghost town compared with Facebook. PC users spent an average of about three minutes a month on Google+ between last September and January, versus six to seven hours on Facebook. Scott Austin has details on The News Hub. Photo: AP

It turns out Google+ is a virtual ghost town compared with the site of rival Facebook Inc., which is preparing for a massive initial public offering. New data from research firm comScore Inc. shows that Google+ users are signing up—but then not doing much there.

Visitors using personal computers spent an average of about three minutes a month on Google+ between September and January, versus six to seven hours on Facebook each month over the same period, according to comScore, which didn’t have data on mobile usage.

Behind the lack of engagement are Google’s difficulties in differentiating Google+ from Facebook.

Journal Community

When Google+ launched last year, the Internet search giant positioned it as a Facebook competitor where people can share comments, articles, photos and videos with specific groups of friends and contacts.

GOOGplus

While Google+ has some original features—including “Hangouts,” which lets people start a video conference with up to 10 people—analysts and some consumers say the distinction isn’t enough to lure Facebook members away and persuade them to build a network of contacts from scratch on Google+.

“Nobody wants another social network right now,” said Brian Solis, an analyst at social-media advisory firm Altimeter Group. For those who already use Facebook, “Google hasn’t communicated what the value of Google+ is,” he said.

Google executives downplay the direct comparison to Facebook, which has 845 million monthly active users. They have repeatedly said they are making a long-term bet on the initiative, and the company has yet to build up some of the weapons that made Facebook successful, including encouraging app development.

More than a year after Verizon Wireless debuted its mobile broadband network known as 4G LTE, just 5% of its customers have switched to the faster data network, Greg Bensinger reports on digits.

In an interview, Bradley Horowitz, a Google vice president of product management, said Google+ is designed to be more than a destination site and, as a result, is “extremely hard for any third party to measure.” Rather, he said, Google+ acts as an auxiliary to Google services—such as Gmail and YouTube—by adding a “personal” social-networking layer on top of them.

For example, Google+ members who search on Google.com can now get personal results that include content from Google+.

Mr. Horowitz declined to share data about how much time people spend on Google+ but said “we’re growing by every metric we care about.” A Google spokeswoman said comScore’s data is “dramatically lower” than Google’s internal data.

Still, some key Google+ partners are underwhelmed by the lack of user activity.

Last August, for instance, social-games company Zynga Inc. began offering its games “CityVille” and “Zynga Poker” to people who use Google+. Zynga now has 46.8 million monthly active users of “CityVille” on Facebook and 33.2 million for “Zynga Poker,” according to tracking service AppData.com. But the growth of its game players on Google+ has been slow, Zynga said, declining to reveal underlying numbers.

“So far, Google+ is a nice platform but it’s been slow on the uptick with users right now,” said John Schappert, Zynga’s chief operating officer.

Google hasn’t yet approached companies to advertise on Google+, but some marketers who are testing the site say their brand messages haven’t resonated with consumers as much as they had expected.

Intel Corp. said 360,000 Google+ members have signed up to receive updates from the chip maker since it set up a brand presence on the site. But Ekaterina Walter, who manages Intel’s presence on social media sites, said activity on the company’s Google+ account is “not as great as we were hoping it was going to be.”

While Intel gets dozens of responses to its posts on Google+ Ms. Walter said the company has nine million “fans” on Facebook and gets thousands of comments there.

Google+ “does not have the same degree of vibrancy that Facebook, Twitter or even Pinterest has at the moment,” said David Cohen, an executive vice president at Universal McCann, a media buying unit of Interpublic Group of Cos. that helps big marketers spend ad dollars. “Without active engagement, it will not be as attractive to advertisers.”

Google has much at stake as it spends heavily on newspaper ads and commercials to promote Google+, including a TV spot involving The Muppets that ran during the Academy Awards. The company’s main financial goal of Google+ is to obtain personal data about users to better target ads to them across all of Google.

To some observers, the challenges Google is facing in creating a rival destination to Facebook and Twitter Inc. evokes the problems that software giant Microsoft Corp. has had in creating a rival search destination to Google search with Bing.

Facebook and Twitter helped change the way people discover new things on the Web, rivaling Google as the chief gateway to the Internet. Much of the activity on Facebook is private and can’t be accessed by Google’s search engine, making search less useful as people spend more time on Facebook.

While some Silicon Valley executives privately give credit to Google for not just ceding territory to Facebook, Google has an uphill battle in slowing down Facebook’s momentum.

0228googplus

European Pressphoto AgencyGoogle publicizes the launch of its social network last September in Hanover, Germany.

A Facebook spokesman declined to comment.

All of this makes it more important for Google to win over people like Ben Hopper. The 29-year-old photographer in London joined Google+ shortly after it launched and said he believed the service had potential.

But in November, Mr. Hopper stopped using Google+. Instead, he re-focused on Facebook and social media sites like Twitter. Google+ “was an additional tool that needed time investment—time I didn’t have to begin with,” he said.

—Shayndi Raice contributed to this article.

Write to Amir Efrati at amir.efrati@wsj.com

Source: The Wall Street Journal

On the surface, this doesn’t look promising. The ComScore data indicate that users with personal computers spent only an average of 3 minutes per month on Google+ in the last six months compared with about 7 hours a month on Facebook. And though the piece includes the usual journalistic “to be sure” caveat, the dreary engagement stats put together by ComScore raise the question of whether it’s already game over.

This sort of horse race handicapping goes on all the time in the tech world, but it offers a misleading picture of what’s happening on the ground. The numbers are what they are, but people use the two social networks differently.

Facebook is an easy (and yes, superficial) way to keep up with friends and family on the fly. It’s a terrific product and that’s why the company’s upcoming IPO has inspired such frenzied anticipation.

The smash success of Facebook raised the bar for Google, which was unsuccessful with earlier attempts like Google Buzz and Google Friend Connect. The search titan was late getting a viable social network up and running, but when it finally did (last September), the company did a fine job. On Google+ — where I tend to lurk — the conversations are deeper and more varied, especially among people who are passionate about technology. Often you’ll meet someone new on Google+, a perfect stranger who has something smart to say about a topic you’re interested in. How frequently does that happen on Facebook, where you’re more likely to get friend requests from a guy in high school who you never liked in the first place?

Another anecdotal difference: On Google+ I’ve yet to encounter the Facebook phenomenon in which “friends” misuse the platform to kvetch about everything under the sun. Maybe that will change as Google+ gets more popular, but for now, at least, there’s no comparison between the depth of interaction on the two services.

An advertising exec quoted by the WSJ worried about the absence of “active engagement” on Google+. That’s a legitimate concern, but advertisers also need to weigh targeted demographics versus a shotgun approach that focuses on the sheer number of eyeballs.

These are still the early innings and whatever marketing weaknesses may exist, Google has the luxury of time to get it right. Unlike Facebook, Google+ was not designed as a destination site. Rather, it’s another service on top of the company’s other offerings. As a poster (on Google+) noted, what we’re talking about is a layer of social in between all the other things that Google touches. Sure, Google might still blow it but the potential for something big to happen is anything but spent. That’s the real story here.

Source: News Cnet.com

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

Hint: It’s Not Another Facebook

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.

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?

Source: WebProNews

What do you think? Please comment below

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