An Unscientific Look At The Health Of Google+ vs Facebook

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One of my circles on Google+ has 43 people in it. 

Last night this circle became my test group for a one day “health” check. Yes, this is a very small, decidedly unscientific sample size. However, I would characterize the people in this specific circle as being very active in the use of social media. Most of them would certainly fall into the top 2% of the Twitter population driving the vast, vast majority of tweets on a daily basis, and they would be considered early adopters by their peers. They come from a variety of different industries, including real estate, mortgage, advertising, marketing, and software development.

Yesterday on Google+ this group of 43 very active socia media users posted a total of 7 status updates. For the sake of this anecdotal, unscientific study, a status update could be a text-only update, a link, a photo or a video. Two of the updates came from a single person, so only 6 of the 43 people (14%) posted an update today. 4 of the 7 status updates attracted some form of attention, resulting in 6 +1’s and 8 comments. That includes the +1’s on comments.

This same group of 43 people posted 63 updates on Facebook today. 34 of these 43 people posted an update on Facebook (all but one engaged in some activity on Facebook, but that activity didn’t result in a status update as defined here), and 45 of the 63 updates got some form of attention. This attention resulted in 221 likes and 215 comments, not including likes on comments. I did the counting at almost midnight, so this only includes interaction from yesterday.

Why did I do this? After reading “Is Google+ Down For The Count,” I decided to see for myself if Google+ was indeed the “ghost town” one person quoted in the post claimed it to be. I chose this group for obvious reasons – if any of my circles were going to be actively using Google+, it was going to be this group.

But they weren’t. At least not yesterday. :)

I think it’s WAY too early to be talking about the death of Google+. That said, I’m just not feeling love for it. I’m not sure why. It’s a beautiful UI. I like the features. Hangouts are cool. And if I and the 43 people in this circle are not getting a ton of interaction there, it’s because we’re not GIVING a ton of interaction there. That’s how social works. And I should probably go spend some more time there, but I’m just not that into it.

Others might be feeling the same:

Steve RubelSteve Rubel – @steverubel
Could be! -> Is Google+ Down For The Count? – The BrainYard – InformationWeek

Anson KennedyAnson Kennedy – @ansonkennedy
Google+ we hardly knew ya.:

David SchwartzDavid Schwartz – @1ad_dad
Is there a pulse? RT @downrightmedia: Is Google+ Down For The Count? – InformationWeek

What’s your experience?

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  1. says

    I’m rarely in G+. I send blog posts there, just because I feel like I “should”. But that hardly qualifies as “interaction”…

    I love the UI, I love the potential. I just don’t have the personal bandwidth.

    • Jeff Turner says

      Jay, I think you and Mike are saying the same thing. And I feel similarly. I’m not sure what’s going to have to shift to make me divert significant time to it.

  2. says

    This is great Jeff – thanks for putting it together. Every network needs TLC with coupled with time and attention. I just don’t feel that on the Googs. Lot of great features – but just one more network to pay attention to. I think most users (including me) just don’t have that time to spare on a network that offers only a few big differentiators. I could be way off.

  3. says

    I much prefer Google+ (not a Facebook fan), but to this point I’m confused and have not figured out what to post where and when between G+, Twitter, and FB. Don’t want G+ to go away.

  4. Teresa Boardman says

    If I were a social butterfly I would enjoy all of the social networks more than I do. I am not even enough of an attention whore to make it work for me.

  5. says

    One thing to keep in mind is that it is possible that there were more posts on G+ from your circle, but they were not shared with you. I post about 90% of my stuff publicly, but not everyone does. It doesn’t change your conclusion, but it worth noting, as it is a chief difference between the two platforms.

    Oh, and had I known I was going to be a guinea pig, I woulda upped my G+ output, just for you. 😉

  6. says


    My sphere is not on Google+ …. at least the part of my sphere that generates referral business for me. I like G+’s UI and the different things you can do there, but the everyday average “Joe” is not there yet and may never be there.

    I love what Scoble said recently ““Zuckerberg understands that the use case of Facebook is for folks to talk to their PRIVATE families and friends. Most people who love Facebook are like my wife. Just want to talk to their friends and family and post a bunch of kid photos, or life photos. That user doesn’t understand, or care about, folks like me who want to build a public brand and find people around the world I don’t really know who are interested in the same thing I am.”

    And I think that people like my wife who are just like Scoble identifies will not move off Facebook for G+. Why? because Facebook is working for them – now that they are set up, there is no need to start all over again on a new platform.

  7. says

    It’s worth pointing out that as of the time of this comment, this article had 14 Facebook “likes” and only two Google “+1s.”

    Google+ is interesting, but I find myself gravitating more towards Facebook. There’s just more going on there. Is Google+ DOA? Not by a long shot. But Google has yet to create a compelling reason to not use Facebook, and so in a world with both, FB — at least for now — is winning. It’s where the people and the interaction are.

  8. says

    Well, now that I’m over here (after, you know, breaking your site with Dashter), figured I’d comment on your post.

    It’s a small social network, so you won’t have the benefits of large volumes of “passer-by” transactions (comments & “likes”). So the question is: What is the proportion of socialization within Google+ and Facebook?

    Google+ has (at last glance – ) 43 million users. Facebook has ~750 million.

    That means G+ is ~6% the size of FB.

    So how does that compare to the transactions that took place?

    7 status updates compared to 63 = ~11% of post activity.

    8 comments compared to 215 = ~3.7% comment activity.

    Frankly, those sorts of results aren’t surprising. People proportionally (for the size of the audience) are sharing more on Google+. That’s probably due to the fact that fewer people are commenting (leading to more time spent creating new status updates in an effort to spark something somewhere).

    Social networks depend on “network effects” to succeed.

    I definitely do not think Google+ is already out of the race (hardly), but I do absolutely agree that they need to innovate the platform to do something that FB is not. Facebook is nowhere near the “perfect” social network – I could spend a week just poking holes in things I’d do differently. Google needs to stop trying to emulate FB and start playing a whole different game, if they want to be competitive.

    • Jeff Turner says

      I almost went there, Dave, I like your calculations. But I decided not to because the thrust of what I wanted to get at was this… I believe if those 43 were investing the same amount of time in Google+, the numbers would be vastly different. While networks depend on network effects, we’re each a small network unto oursleves. Each of those people have or could have a significant enough network on Google+, certainly one that would match their personal network on Facebook, even if Google+ can’t match Facebook at the top level.

      The fact that none of those 43 are really doing so is what intrigues me. Why? That’s the question Google+ needs to answer. They got us there, why aren’t we engaging?

      • says

        Value-to-time is the essential ingredient here.

        Let’s compare the “Top 4″:

        Facebook: ~750m users
        Twitter: ~175m users
        LinkedIn: ~100m users
        Google+: ~45m users

        If you assumed that you wanted to optimize your reach across all social networks, you could do the following:

        Total “Reach”: 750+175+100+45 = 1,070m users … From there, you simply divide the users to yield your theoretical optimal time on site for maximum reach:

        Facebook: 750/1070 = ~70%
        Twitter: 175/1070 = ~16%
        LinkedIn: 100/1070 = ~9%
        Google+: 45/1070 = ~4%

        So if you spent an hour per day social networking, your optimal time-on-site distribution (to reach the largest potential audience) would be: 42 minutes on Facebook, 10 minutes on Twitter, 6 minutes on LinkedIn, and 2 minutes on Google+.

        • Jeff Turner says

          Dave, the major flaw in your logic is that people don’t connect with the whole, they connect with their circles. There is a correlation between those numbers and how many are in my sphere on each network, but it’s not one to one. It’s possible for me to build a vey suitable network on Google+ right now, even with it’s small population, but it wouldn’t contain some of the key folks I want to communicate with on a daily basis. But it would might only take about 50 people to tip the scales for me and cause me to make a dramatic shift in attention, regardless of system wide numbers.

  9. says

    Perhaps it’s too early to evaluate Google 1+…and if something happens at Facebook, people will migrate to it. Most of my Facebook people are staying there for now.

  10. Jeff Turner says

    Interestingly, the following day, only two of these 43 posted an update publically on Google+, resulting in 5 status updates, four by one person, one by another.

  11. says

    Perhaps one days they’ll make friends and the two could interface… everything else interfaces with Facebook. I love that +1s show up in my Google search results.

  12. callen says

    Why doesn’t G+ appear in the ‘link’ icons at the top of you blog page? Maybe you’d get more +1s if it did?


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