Google+ hit 62 million users at the end of December.
The social network is estimated to reach 400 million users by the end of this year.
THOUGHT: These numbers are complied by Paul Allen, the founder of Ancestry.com, who has anointed himself Google+’s unofficial statistician, since Google has refused to release user numbers for its social network. His methodology is based on counting surnames in Google+ accounts.
I think we can agree that Google+ has had impressive growth but that the network is still dwarfed by Facebook and has thus far been primarily the domain of content creators, be they individuals of publishing entities. My Google+ feed, for example, is dominated with Mashable stories from Pete Cashmore.
My problem with Google+ thus far as been the lack of third-party integration. I distribute almost all of my content through Hootsuite, so having to post to Google+ involves an extra step for every link. Google is working with the Hootsuite’s of the world but to date, that has yet to manifest itself in my tool.
Yesterday, though, Google forced by hand by rolling out Google Plus Your World, which includes in the general search results content that has been shared through Google+…by default. Searchers will get these “social search results” unless they use the new toggle option on the upper right-hand corner of the search results page to turn search personalization off.
I’ve discussed before how content shared through Google+ will get a boost in Google search visibility and now we’re seeing that writ large.
Now, you’ll see plenty of content that you yourself have shared on Google+ (links, photos you’ve uploaded to Picasa, comments you’ve left on someone else’s profile), content that has been shared with you through Google+ (by virtue of being in someone’s Circle), and suggestions of people you are not yet connected to on Google+.
In addition to including Google+ content in the search results, Google is also highlighting individual Google+ profiles and Google+ brand pages for “name” searches instantly and directly in the search box through the search suggest function. If you are connected to me on Google+ and you search “David Erickson,” you’ll likely be offered a link to my Google+ profile.
Finally, even if you are not logged into your Google account, when you use general search terms like “music” or “marketing,” Google will suggest Google+ profiles or pages for you to follow, based on the type of content they are sharing through Google+ and, I imagine, other social signals such as the number of followers and the extent of engagement with their content.
My initial impressions after playing with it for just a little while:
- People will use it to find other people in their social graph who have experience that may be of value to them in their decision making such as having tried a particular restaurant or bought a given product.
- Until more individuals use Google+ regularly to have conversations and share content, streams will be dominated by major publishers.
- It can be used as an insight tool: I did some searches for musicians and band names to find out who among my connections like what type of music.
- In order for brands and companies to get visibility within Google’s new personalized search and/or page suggestions, they will need to comment upon and share content related to the topics that are relevant to their business. That content needs to be compelling enough that others will want to comment upon it, Plus One it, or share it.
KEYWORD WEDNESDAY: Ron Paul continues to dominate search over his Republican opponents for the presidential nomination but that has not yet translated to victory. During the past seven days, the most voluminous candidate searches in New Hampshire were 1) Ron Paul [22.9%], 2) Mitt Romney [39.3%], 3) Rick Santorum [9.4%], 4) Jon Huntsman [16.9%] and 5) Newt Gingrich [9.4%]. (The brackets contain the percentage of the vote they got in New Hampshire last night.) [CHART]
Thank you for memory.
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- Google Expands Social Search
- Social Wars
- Circle Me
- Have Search, Will Not Travel (Much)
- Viral Marketing