Monday, 28 January 2013

Watch out Facebook, Google+ is now the world's second largest social network ... - The Independent (blog)

google plus arrows final 300x225 Watch out Facebook, Google+ is now the world's second largest social network and it's growing fast!The latest figures from the Global Web Index now track Google+ as the second largest social network in the world, with an estimated 343 million monthly active users. Closely trailing Google+ is Google's own YouTube in third place, followed by Twitter in fourth. All three are trailing Facebook by a significant margin, but Google+ is gaining ground and doing so fast.

We all know that Facebook is the undeniable king of the social web but Google is catching up and it's doing so at an astonishing rate. It took Facebook almost six years to reach 300 million active monthly users, a milestone that Google+ has sailed past in under 18 months. With a population of 343 million, the bustling streets of Google's 'ghost town' are far from empty.

As the search giant continues to integrate Google+ functionality into every facet of its company, it's clear that Google's social network has the potential to match and even exceed Facebook's achievements. Provided its unprecedented growth remains steady.

I use both Facebook and Google+ on a regular basis and have noticed some interesting things about each network's users. The majority of Facebook users I speak to dislike the service's  overall design, many find themselves frustrated by privacy related issues on a regular basis and almost all of them dislike the advertisements littering the mobile and desktop Facebook experiences.

On the flip side, almost every Google+ user I have ever interacted with talks positively about the platform's design. I can't remember a single user complaining about privacy related issues on Google+ either. Then there is the complete lack of advertising on the platform. This is due to the fact that Google can finance its network using profits from other ad-supported services, such as web search, YouTube and the Google Play store.

On the whole, most people seem to gravitate towards Facebook because a majority of their friends use it, despite the fact that they don't particularly like the design, features or the changes forced upon them. This critical mass keeps the service alive and helps Facebook maintain its relatively slow but steady growth.

This is where I believe Google+ has the potential to outgrow Facebook. Facebook users predominantly use the service to interact with their friends. Everything revolves around the people you already know in the physical world. Google+ users on the other hand, tend to interact with people they don't know. There are some exceptions of course, but generally, real world connections appear to be in the minority on Google+ when you look at an average user's circles.

I find that my Facebook friends list shrinks more and more each month whereas my Google+ circles tend to grow and grow on an almost daily basis. I struggle to see how my Facebook social graph could grow over the coming years. Especially if more and more of my friends continue to join me on Google+.

The more time I spend on Facebook, the more I realise how little I get out of it. Meanwhile on Google+ every visit is an interesting one. I continue to return multiple times a day, thanks to a constant and varied stream of engaging content from other users with similar interests to me.

You can follow me on Google+ here. No, I insist the more the merrier!

How do your experiences compare to the observations above? Do you find yourself using Facebook more or less than you used to? Have you tried Google+? and if so, how do you feel about its direction and rate of growth?

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