Google+ Gaining on Facebook: "Plus Ones" Growing at a Faster Rate than "Shares"

Jul 01, 2013

Article ImageIf you use Gmail or Chrome, you probably have a Google+ account, whether you know it or not. But Facebook still dominates the social networking landscape...for now. According to Searchmetrics sharing on Google+ is poised to surpass sharing on Facebook by 2016. Yes, in just three shorts years, you and everyone you know will have made the switch to Google+ -- or at least that is where they'll be sharing the majority of content.

"Google wants as many people as possible to share things - web pages, blog posts, videos etc - they find useful and relevant with people they are connected to on Google+. It can roll up this information into the mass of data that helps it understand which content people consider valuable and useful and give it insights about how to position it in search results," said Marcus Tober, founder and CTO of Searchmetrics in a statement. "This social data will also help Google build more personalized search results that tie in with a person's social network connections and activities - something for which many people think Facebook has a head start."

Searchmetrics conducted a study based on a comparison of the average monthly growth in the number of Facebook shares and their equivalent on Google+ in the US, covering the period from November 2012 to April 2013. During this time Google+'s growth in shares was 19% per month while Facebook's shares only grew by 10%. If this continues at the same pace, shares on Google+ will outnumber those on Facebook by February of 2013. According to Searchmetrics, by May 2016 Google+ is predicted to achieve around 1096 billion shares per month while Facebook would be generating approximately 849 billion shares per month.

"While it still has a relatively small base, Google+ activity and users are growing at an insane speed," Tober said in the statement. "And the unthinkable is possible - in terms of the important area of sharing activity at least, our data shows it could actually catch up with Facebook if the trend continues."

If this is true, content providers and social media marketers need to take note now and start developing a strategy that puts Google+ at its center, which may be significantly different than your Facebook strategy.

A separate Searchmetrics study of  Google+ user activity (based on a representative sample of 100,000 randomly selected global user profiles) indicates that the group of users who are actually active on Google+ appears to be relatively small - but is still enough to have caused the considerable growth in sharing activity.

A separate Searchmetrics analysis "counted users with at least one post (ie a status update) on their profile as ‘active' users and found that only 24.39% of Google+ users had any kind of posting activity whatsoever on their profiles since the social network was launched. In other words, only one in four Google+ users can be considered active in this sense." Yet, the network continues to gain on Facebook's share of the "share" market. In other words, Google+ has a small but active community, and reaching them will become increasingly important.