— Tom Scott (@tomscott) November 11, 2013
The above tweet shows the number of shares that The North-o-Meter (a quiz that tells you how much you resemble someone from the north of England) from Us vs Th3m received on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. In total it was shared over 1 million times on Facebook, in just a few days, and resulted in almost 40 000 tweets. And a mere 230 +1s on Google+.
@tomscott Hey, 0.023% isn’t bad! (It is very bad.)
— Tom Phillips (@flashboy) November 11, 2013
Expressed as a percentage, as shown in this tweet, makes Google+ look even worse. Of course, the quiz didn’t have a ‘Share on Google+’ button at the end, unlike Twitter and Facebook. But is Google+ really used so infrequently?
Numbers of active users are hard to get hold of. Google claims that around 300 million people are active on Google+ every month, which may rank it higher than Twitter in some estimates. But that could simply be people who are using Google whilst logged in, and who briefly interact with Google+’s social features. Indeed, the number of people who visit the home stream at plus.google.com is reckoned to be only 10 million per day, and may explain why Google has been hesitant to launch advertising on Google+. Facebook, on the other hand, can boast numbers many times higher, and so can Twitter.
And I’m worried that Google is going down the same path as Facebook, when it comes to privacy. I remember when Google+ first started, some of the arguments used by those who quit Facebook for Google+ was that they felt more in control. But now Google is following Facebook’s lead. It’s putting your face in adverts, unless you opt out. You now can’t post a YouTube comment without a Google+ account – admittedly YouTube comments were pretty dire but I’m concerned about the loss of anonymity that this results in. I’m also somewhat confident in my belief that Google Reader was shut down in favour of Google+, and I still haven’t forgiven Google for that.
Yes, I’m bitter.
On the iOS App Store, the Google+ app is ranked 21st most popular free app – below Facebook (3rd) and Twitter (4th), but also Vine (7th), LinkedIn (10th), Pinterest (11th), Tumblr (12th) and even Apple’s own lacklustre Find My Friends (14th). And despite being included on all new Android handsets, +1 buttons everywhere you look and increasing integration with its other products, Google+ doesn’t seem to have grown much. Well, not beyond a small hard core of almost fanboyish users. There are very few people that I care about on Google+ – close friends and family all use Facebook and Twitter – so it’s not really worth much of my time, even though I try.
Would I miss Google+ if, hypothetically, it closed tomorrow? Honestly, no, I wouldn’t.