Things were looking good for Google Plus when it first launched almost two years ago. Even while it was still in its testing phase, millions of people were clamoring to sign up for Google’s social networking service. Invites had to be suspended for the invite-only field test because of the insane demand for new accounts.
It only took two weeks for ten million people to create accounts on the new service. Hopes were high and it looked like a real competitor had finally arisen to take on Facebook. But even as the number of users increased, users and journalists began criticizing the service. More people began leaving Google Plus, disappointed by the lack of active users and meaningful content. By the end of 2011, the average Google Plus user only spent an average of five minutes on the service per month. At the time, the Facebook users spent an average of seven hours on Facebook per month.
Things were looking grim; many thought that Google Plus was dead, that Facebook had killed the service in the womb. But Google didn’t quit, they continued updating and improving the service. They began tweaking the service to target audiences that Facebook didn’t. Google Plus began turning into a hub for business, marketing, and discussion. The number of users continued to rise and more people began actively using the service.
In January, Google Plus passed Twitter to become the second most popular social networking service in the world. It looks like people were too quick to dismiss the service. But as the number of users continues to rise at a rapid pace, people are questioning whether the numbers are actually what they seem. One of the reasons that there are so many Google Plus accounts is that all of Google’s services are connected. Signing up for YouTube, Gmail, or any other Google service will also sign you up for Google Plus.
While Google Plus may have over half a billion users, that doesn’t mean half a billion people actually use it. A large portion of its users only use it as a convenient way to log into Google’s other services. Some of them don’t even know they have a Google Plus account. Don’t let that fool you though, Google Plus still has over a quarter of a million active users. While most experts don’t believe that Google Plus will beat out Facebook, they still believe that it’s a force to e reckoned with.