Google+ numbers have been a point of contention for the blogosphere since the social media platform came on the scene in June 2011.
Until recently, Google has opted to discuss numbers in vague fashion. Oftentimes, Google spoke of how users engaged via their Google+ accounts with a number of other Google services. That left critics to speculate Google+ may or may not have been the users’ destination site.
The critics also say Google’s done a lot of “stretching the truth” and they hammer home that the search engine giant’s numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Its supporters say numbers don’t tell the whole story of the site’s reach. I’ll leave it to you to decide who’s right.
In like a lion
Google+ exploded on the scene. As a mere 2-week-old, it boasted 10 million users. After four weeks, it was touting 25 million unique visitors. A couple months later, it climbed to 25 million users, making it the fastest website to reach that wide of an audience.
By March 2012, Google+ top dog Vic Gundotra was announcing the site had crossed over 90 million users. That announcement also served as a jumping-off point for critics as there was mass confusion over Gundotra’s claim of the number of users who engage with the site on a daily and weekly basis. It was later learned that he was addressing activity with any Google product, not just Google+ as first believed.
With the site growing at an impressive 625,000 new sign-ups daily, June saw the number of users at 250 million.
Responding to critics
With critics still lashing out, Google employees jumped in to defend the product themselves. Among them was Yonatan Zunger, the senior engineer on the Google+ team.
He echoed the company’s latest reported numbers – 75 million daily active users who spend over 60 minutes daily on Google – before taking a shot at the critics.
“’Ghost Town,’ my ass,” he posted on his Google+ public profile. “We are a ghost city.”
In September, Gundotra got real with the critics, reporting the site crossed over the 100 million mark for monthly active users. It seemed the company finally spoke directly to Google+ usage in what many believed was a shot at shedding the ghost-town image still perpetuated by critics.
Of course, Google was quick to remind everyone they had hit another important milestone: more than 400 million people had upgraded to Google+. Of course, the critics were quick to question the word choice of “upgraded.”
The obvious comparison
Whether it’s a fair comparison, many automatically stack Google+ up to its biggest competitor: Facebook. While it’s not fair to look at where they are now, because Facebook has been at it a lot longer, it’s interesting to look at their growth rates.
It took Facebook more than two years to reach 100 million active users. Google+ did it in less than a year. When Facebook was an infant, critics said Myspacers wouldn’t jump ship for Facebook. The two sites were just too different, they argued. Hmm … this sounds familiar.
A final thought
While many may still see Google+ as the red-headed stepchild of social media, evidence of its growth is stacking up in its favor.
Thanks for reading,