Is Google+ Suffering from Weak Engagement?

When talking about Google+, the number to quote is usually 100 million users.  That’s what was announced as part of Google’s latest announcement and also seems to check out with web pundits based on the fact that Gmail has an estimated 60 million users and many of those are grandfathered in to the Google+ social network.  However, a recent analysis by RJMetrics is looking at just how active the users of Google+ are, and whether the social network is the equivalent of a special matinee showing for The Artist on Mother’s Day.

The study involved polling 40,000 random Google Plus users to analyze their behavior on the network.  They downloaded the users’ public timelines and determined how these users were behaving on Google+.  The big caveat to be mentioned up front is that RJMetrics was only able to look at public data, and we all know that is not the best determinant of the usage of a social network.  If you look at my public Facebook activity you’ll probably see one or two links from the past few months.

That said, here are a few highlights of the study, and some of them do not bode well for Google+

  • The average post has less than one +1, less than one reply, and less than one re-share.
  • 30% of users who make a public post never make a second one. Even after making five public posts, there is a 15% chance that a user will not post publicly again.
  • Among users who make publicly-viewable posts, there is an average of 12 days between each post
  • cohort analysis reveals that, after a member makes a public post, the average number of public posts they make in each subsequent month declines steadily. This trend is not improving in newer cohorts.

The study also looks at how a user’s activity dwindles.  Users that have made one post on Google+ have a 72% chance of making another, users with 2 have an 80% chance and so on until users with 5 posts have an 85% chance.  This can sound good, but if you imagine that 3 in 10 people don’t make more than one post, you can see that the site may not be as sticky as Facebook.

Check out the study for some more interesting points on the average number of +1s and replies per post as well — startling stuff.