by Kristin Burnham

Google+ Traffic Plunges, Are Its Days Numbered?

Oct 11, 20113 mins
InternetSocial Networking Apps

According to a new report, Google+ traffic has dropped 60 percent. Could this spell the end of yet another social networking attempt by Google?

Though some say it’s still too soon to discount Google+, which is not yet four months old, Google’s social network has lost some serious momentum. According to a new report by Chitika, a data analytics company, Google+ traffic has plummeted by a whopping 60 percent.

“The data shows that, on the day of its public debut, Google+ traffic skyrocketed to peak levels,” according to Chitika. “It would appear that although high levels of publicity were able to draw new traffic to Google+, few of them saw reason to stay.”



Google+ started strong, though: In its first month, the social network amassed 25 million visitors, according to comScore. That made Google+ the fastest growing social network ever. Then in July, Google CEO Larry Page announced that Google+ had 10 million users who were sharing 1 billion items each day. Unofficial reports now peg the number of Google+ users at 43 million—impressive figures, no doubt. But how much do those stats matter now that the social networking site has lost so much energy?

Think back to its highly anticipated and hyped announcement: Tech pundits—perhaps prematurely—praised it, calling Google+ a “Facebook killer.” And Google created such buzz around its new offering that people were auctioning off invites on eBay. There was an absurd demand for it.

But then Google abruptly hit the brakes, choosing to shut down the invitation service and continue for months in a limited beta release. It also restricted Google Apps users from using the social network and, several months after users first clamored for business accounts, it has yet to release them.

The hype has died down, and Google+ users seem to have lost interest. I have, too.

Chitika’s report looks into why, given all the publicity and resources that Google+ has at its disposal, the social network hasn’t taken off. It offers two answers.

The first one is essentially social media overload—the supply of users for social media sites is limited, especially when some have become entrenched in one or two social networks already. Switching from one to another must have significant benefits, the report says, and users complained at the start that Google+ looked and felt like a repackaged Facebook.

The second reason the data analytics company gives is that Google+’s features must be unique and difficult to duplicate. “If they’re not, the competitive advantage quickly disappears,” it says.

That last one is likely the most important. Circles were a huge selling point when Google+ first launched. It played off Facebook users’ privacy fears, and proved to be an easier way to manage contacts. Shortly after, however, Facebook countered with a redesigned privacy center and a new Friend List feature that—yes, you guessed it—was very similar to Circles.

So where does this leave Google+? It’s no secret that the company has a lot riding on its success. In April, a leaked memo from  Page said that Google employee bonuses would be contingent on Google’s success—or failure—in the social media space.

And while I agree that it is premature to write Google+ off entirely right now, it needs to up the ante and differentiate itself quickly in order to compete, before more users grow bored and leave.

Do you think Google+ has more fight left in it? Or could its decline in engagement spell the end of Google+?