Five years ago the launch of Google+ as a competitor to Facebook was seen as a major threat to Facebook’s industry dominance. People were excited about the potential that Google getting involved in social networking and waited with baited breath to see what the results would be.
Five years later, Facebook has continued its consistent growth, with 1.65 billion active monthly users, whereas Google+ sits at a small fraction of that with 111 million monthly users. As a social networking tool, or an outreach platform, Google+ has proven itself to be massively inferior in almost every way imaginable.
All about that base
The effectiveness of a social media network is dictated by two factors: user base and user activity. A social network will fail to fulfill its purpose if it doesn’t have a sufficient number of users — or if those users fail to be sufficiently active.
Facebook is certainly the gold standard for volume of users in the social networking industry; no one will have better luck finding their personal connections on any other platform than Facebook; no company can reach a larger audience through social media by advertising, or doing digital outreach through other social media platforms.
Twitter, which is Facebook’s nearest competitor in social media in the western world, has a comparatively small 310 million monthly users. This high volume of users makes Facebook the default network for any new user to join, if the main aim of social media is to connect with other people.
We all have that one friend who didn’t want to join, but ended up caving to the trend once they saw all of their other friends and family join. Facebook is the only social media company with that level of reach, which makes it a far better platform for both businesses and individuals.
Facebook users tend to be quite active when compared to users of other social media sites, such as Google+. Only a small portion of the active users for Google+ consistently post to the platform; on the other hand, Facebook continually engages its users very well.
Facebook users are more likely to log on, and to share, like, and comment than on other similar platforms. Facebook has situated itself as a central part of the social experience, particularly for younger generations.
By making itself a social necessity, or at least a social convenience, it encourages consistent and active use of Facebook as a platform for conversing with friends. On many college campuses, use of Facebook’s messaging function has largely replaced text messages.
At precisely the opposite end of the spectrum of social media success is Google +. Immediately after its launch, Google+ was dubbed a “ghost town.” Word got around that no one was migrating to Google+ or joining the network.
There are many possible reasons why there was no initial migration to Google+. Some say that it’s because it had an imperfect launch and did not have all the functionality it needed to compete with other networks. Others suggest that the various social media niches had already been filled by Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest.
With no niche to occupy, Google+ lacked an ability to draw in new users. Whatever the reason, once Google+ got the reputation of being a ghost town, it lost any ability to continue to attract new users. People simply did not want to go through the effort of making a Google+ account and learning a new social media platform to end up being the only one of their social group that did so.
Google+ in its current incarnation simply doesn’t have the same benefits, or potential, for any of its current or potential users, that Facebook does. There is simply no real community surrounding Google+. In an attempt to boost its use, Google attempted to integrate it into its other more popular services, such as Gmail and YouTube. Even if these did boost the overall use of the network, many of the newer users were not part of that network willingly, and thus use it less and less. In the proverbial battle between Facebook and Google+, in terms of reach, consistent use, user experience, and potential for businesses and marketing, it’s the New York Yankees versus a Little League team. Facebook wins hands down.