So much talk online about the growing popularity of Google Plus, even while all your real-world friends are still on Facebook. Let’s look at exactly who is using Google Plus.
There is a lot of background chatter online about Google Plus, and whether 2014 is the year that it replaces Facebook as the social network of choice. I have seen a few smirky cartoons and signs about people leaving Facebook for Google Plus.
I have even written about how Facebook gave Google an orgasm not long ago.
Notwithstanding the chatter, I do not predict that Google Plus will eclipse Facebook this year. The statistics still show that Facebook is way ahead of Google Plus, and that even if Google Plus accelerates its growth, Facebook should still dominate by the end of 2014.
“Google+ may have 540m monthly active users, but this year they disclosed that this takes into account anyone who clicks on a +1 button that may be embedded on an external page (such as this one). Likewise, Facebook also takes into account anyone who clicks on a like or share button on any external site, meaning that you don’t have to use Facebook directly to be considered one of its monthly active users.”
Never mind the stats. If you go out onto the street and talk to “real people” – I mean people who don’t use the words “social media” in everyday conversation and who might not even know what the term means - they are almost all on Facebook. They are there because that’s where extended family and friends (people they know in the real world) all are. They won’t switch social networks easily because no other social network has what Facebook has – their real-world family and friends.
Many of these people have also heard of Twitter, thanks to mainstream media coverage in the news and promotion through shows like American idol.
Few of these people have even heard of Google Plus.
Until these people are given a very compelling reason to leave, Facebook will retain the upper hand.
Who’s on Google Plus now?
But a lot of people are using Google Plus anyway, and maybe you should be boosting your Google Plus mojo to reach those people. Just who are those people?
Disaffected Facebook users.
There are many reasons people are leaving Facebook. Some studies say that Facebook makes us feel bad about ourselves. Others suggest that Facebook’s privacy and ethics policies are driving them away. I know of people who are upset with the ads and sponsored posts that are invading their streams, although I have yet to hear any “real people” (offline friends and family) comment about this. Will Google Plus be any better on any of these points? Only time will tell.
But who are these disaffected Facebook users? They seem to cut across all ages, although they tend to be more men than women. Which ones are moving to Google Plus? That is even harder to tell, since so many disaffected Facebook users might not be “leaving” one platform for another, but simply spending more time on Google Plus and less time (or no time at all) on Facebook.
But many of them fit into the groups below.
Artists and photographers.
This is almost a no brainer. If you have images you want to share online, Facebook just doesn’t cut it. Facebook gives you very little control over images, clipping them automatically. See what Facebook did to my New Year’s message:
Sharing pics on Twitter is not ideal, partly because of the 140 character limit to describe the image, and partly because the pic doesn’t show up unless you open the tweet. Here is my New Year’s tweet:
Here is how most people saw it:
Google Plus works just perfectly for sharing images, whether you are a photographer, and artist or just someone who like sharing lolcats. And you can easily describe the picture in as much detail as you wish. See the difference it made with my New Year’s message:
It is worth noting that for really large images, Google Plus gives extra width, so they sometimes span across two columns. That makes for some superb online vistas.
This has suddenly become a no-brainer. Small businesses and online marketers were recently told by Facebook that they are unwelcome. Not officially, of course, but if you read my recent post on Facebook’s antics, it is clear that they have made the Facebook climate inhospitable for supporting small business life forms.
I am seeing more and more of these people – people just like you, perhaps? – heading over to Google plus. So it’s a great place to network with like-minded marketers, develop relationships, partnerships and collaboration. But is it a good place to sell to them? Time will tell.
As Google Plus grows so quickly, I suspect the data is changing quickly. Nevertheless, you can expect Google Plus users to come from similar places as those on Facebook and Twitter. My own experience, however, shows that Google Plus is skewed more toward Europeans.
If I remove the local bias in Facebook (so many fellow Canadian offline friends, former friends and family), both Facebook and Twitter tend to be USA-centric, followed by India, after which would be UK and Canada (at least for English speakers).
I do not find myself interacting with a lot of people from Italy, Spain, France, Greece, etc. on Twitter and Facebook. But on Google Plus, I do. Perhaps it is just that the avid sharing photographers tend to be Mediterranean, or it might just be an accident of a couple circles I was included in early on. But I find much less participation from India, and Asia in general, on Google Plus that I find on Twitter and Facebook.
I also find the content split to be interesting. Very few Europeans seem to be sharing links to blog posts, whereas that seems to be what I see the majority of Americans and Indians sharing.
Perhaps you have a different experience on Google Plus, in which case please share it in the comments below. My own observations might be too narrow-based on which to draw any useful conclusions.
Have I missed any important segments? Are there other large, identifiable groups blazing trails on Google Plus? Please let me know (and your fellow readers, as well) in the comments below.Written by David Leonhardt
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