Despite Setbacks, Google+ Still Poised for Growth

 
on July 28 2011 12:24 PM

Google+ is poised to continue growing after a slowdown last week, but the inflection point highlights challenges it faces as it vies to enter the social space.

The social-network received more than 1.79 million total visits during the week ending July 23, representing a three percent decrease from the week before, Web analytics firm Experian Hitwise found.

But Matt Tatham of Experian warned that the numbers represent just a short time frame and should be taken lightly.

"It's really small," Tatham said with regards to the drop. "Just keep it in context, we're just a month in. Out of the gate they had a good start."

Traffic to Google+ already grew the first few days of this week, he noted.

The decline, however small, highlights the challenges that Google faces as it attempts to break into an already crowded social space.

While the rate of growth is unrivaled, the social network is still small in comparison to mature rivals Facebook and Twitter, which have 750 million and 200 million registered users, respectively.

Google also needs to take steps to ensure that its new social network doesn't follow the same fate as its predecessors: Google Buzz and Google Wave.

While those sites saw initial interest, participation waned and those projects were eventually pulled.

"[Google+'s] ultimate success will depend on how well it converts this strong trial base into regular users," ComScore's Andrew Lipsman warned.

Indeed, while rivals like Facebook and Twitter have become online destinations in themselves, over 50 percent of traffic coming to Google+ originates from Google or Gmail.

Facebook also enjoys stronger user engagement than Google+. In the increasingly competitive digital marketing environment, advertisers are concerned with not only reach and targeting, but also user how long users are interacting with the site.

The time spent on Google+ decreased saw a decrease last week, with users spending an average of 5 minutes 15 seconds on Google+, down 10 percent.

"The 10 percent drop seems somewhat big, but in reality it is not," Tatham said, saying he believes that would "continue to grow."

In comparison, Facebook users spend 55 minutes on the site per day, on average, according to Facebook's self-reported statistics.

And while Google CEO Larry Page told investors that the site has already amassed 10 million users, HitWise data indicates that just 10 percent of those registered visit the site.

With strong integration to Google's ecosystem of products and services and plenty of hype, Google+ will have little problems reaching more people.

The challenge will converting them from passers-by to dedicated users.

 

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