48 Comments

Summary:

Now closing on its second month, the Google+ social networking platform has seen rapid growth — and lots of attention — in its short lifetime. But new research indicates that the majority of Google+ users do not actually pitch in on the site very often, if at all.

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Update: On Monday, Bime Analytics responded to many of the concerns posted here and elsewhere on the Internet about the data presented in this infographic, specifically, the data point about active and inactive users, saying that “a user is classed as active if they have posted at least once publicly on G+.” Bime has posted a new infographic that omits that data point, which is shown below. We have updated the post accordingly.

Now closing on its second month, the Google+ social networking platform has seen rapid growth — and lots of attention — in its short lifetime. But new research indicates that the lion’s share of Google+ users do not actually pitch in on the site very often, if at all.

Here are some interesting tidbits from data compiled by Bime Analytics, which polled a voluntary sample of more than 10 million Google+ users:

  • A silent majority exists — in a big way. The study found that a whopping 83 percent of Google+ users are currently classed as inactive. It bears mention, though, that other social networks have the same issue: A small portion of very active users, and a large silent majority of lurkers or just plain inactive accounts. For example, research indicates that 80 percent of Twitter users have Tweeted fewer than 10 lines, and 40 percent of users have never sent a single Tweet.
  • Students are taking over. As of mid-August, the dominant occupation for Google+ users was “student.” That’s a big shift from the month prior, when the dominant occupation was “engineer.”
  • It’s still a man’s world. The percentage of female users was 30 percent, a slight increase from the month prior when women made up 28 percent of Google+’s user base.

Here are the survey results in handy infographic form (click to enlarge):
googleplus2 450x1024 Google+ User Statistics Part II   How have the demographics shifted since G+ came out of beta?
Source: Google+ User Statistics Part II – BimeAnalytics.com

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  1. Niall Harbison Friday, August 19, 2011

    Not really surprised by this at all. This was always going to be the key period coming up now to see if it was a success or not. Throw in some new stuff coming from Facebook and and iPhone launch and Google + ain’t going to be getting as much press coverage any more.

  2. Robert Cathey Friday, August 19, 2011

    Colleen, you may know this offhand… What does that stat look like for Facebook? I understand it’s apples & oranges, since FB is massive and you’d expect G+ users to be more active on average since they’re early adopters, but the comparison might be interesting.

    1. Hi Robert, I searched around for those figures, but wasn’t able to find any of that information at press time for this piece. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Sharon Machlis Friday, August 19, 2011

    That statistic comes from garbage data. Bime is getting its numbers from “findpeopleonplus.com.” Bime admits “We are not sure how these figures were determined, but it was amazing to see that 83% of users were classed as inactive.” Wow, that’s inspiring. So I searched for a few of my friends who are active on Google+ on that findpeopleonplus.com site. Sure enough, it didn’t take long before I found someone listed as “inactive” who in fact is active.

    1. Hi Sharon, we understand your concerns as we were also really surprised to see the high number of ‘inactive’ users, but since this was the only data we could find on the subject we decided to add the line about not being sure how it was determined in order to clarify that the data may not reflect reality, and not lead people to take the data at 100% face value. We are waiting for a response from findpeopleonplus as to how they came up with this figure. So please sit tight and we’ll try to clarify soon…

      1. Without the definition of inactive and comparison data for other networks using the same definition, this is pretty much just noise.

      2. I appreciate your prompt response on this and look forward to your clarification. However, wouldn’t it have been better to find out what the data actually meant *before* reporting on it?

      3. “data may not reflect reality” – This is what bothers me about Titles to posts like this – linkbait. They don’t reflect reality when they aren’t based on actual facts, and a site will even say that further into a post. Come on, Gigaom – You are so much better than that!

      4. I’ve heard back from @FndPeopleonPlus on Twitter. They say they are defining as active anyone who has more than 0 posts. They also acknowledge they can only see public posts. Finally, they say they will be renaming their “activity” field since they acknowledge that isn’t clear.

        “At least 1 public post” would not be my definition of active on Google+, since that leaves out everyone posting just to private circles, those who are commenting but not adding original posts, those who are voting on posts with +1 and those logging in to read but not generate content. They also didn’t mention a timeframe; as time goes on, if someone was “active” three months ago but not since, I’m not sure I’d deem them still active.

      5. I see that Bime has now pulled the “83% of Google+ users are inactive” stat out of their infographic. http://bimeanalytics.com/blog/update-about-active-vs-inactive-users-google-user-stats-from-findpeopleonplus/ Will story be updated here?

      6. Not knowing the ‘interpretation’ of the data..or the basis of that interpretation.. you still go ahead and TITLE your post as “83% of Google users are inactive”! WoW! You just validated someone else’s junk data! Can I get my junk data posted on your site for it to be marked as valid please?

    2. Right on regarding the “inactive” numbers.

      At least Bime notes the data’s questionable meaning. This article trumpets it in the headline and main thesis as fact and only notes that “activity” stats across networks generally look like the quoted 83%.

      If we assume that findpeopleonplus can only access public posts (and other potentially public indicators, like people followed/following) of the profiles it monitors, then their statistic is only measuring public activity. I’d go further, but I’m not the one writing this article.

    3. Sharon, love your critical thinking. I think it is a “state of the online union” to post first and clarify later. Looking you up as another female stat on google+ :)

    4. Absolutely garbage. Also, MANY are using it to post privately so there is no way to gather that data. Why? Because Google has great privacy features built in for whom you post to.

    5. Sharon, a bit from my blog was among the links Colleen linked above — and I’d hardly call myself garbage.

    6. Thanks for your work on this over the weekend, Sharon. The article is now corrected.

      1. Likewise, our original post and the infographic itself has been updated.

  4. Nice comparison with Twitter inactive users… and thanks for the post Colleen :)

  5. Lucian Armasu Friday, August 19, 2011

    The question is, is it that different than Facebook? Facebook always cites “active members” as in members that log in *at least once a month*. I’m sure the vast majority of Google+ members log at least once a month, too.

  6. I do agree the influx of other services and endeavors is overshadowing this is goign to definitely take off some of the expectations. But google is in a very heated market so vawncast that it’s not a big deal really so even moving forward it should be more than fine.

  7. What kind of data do you need to present to convice Google groupies that this is another disaster in the series of their social space experiments (Orkut, Wave, Buzz)?

  8. They seem to determine “inactive” by the number of “public” posts, which is moronic considering the entire point of Circles is to offer a more private, or “inactive”, social experience.

    1. Exactly. While I post a lot publicly, many don’t and I also post privately and participate in private posts.

  9. The Tenant Advisor Friday, August 19, 2011

    I didn’t need an official survey, I spend enough time on G+ to see that the buzz is gone, some refuse to believe it but the concept of denial is important in twelve-step programs

  10. Colleen, if you want to help the google+ female stat, here is an invite from yours trully https://plus.google.com/_/notifications/ngemlink?path=%2F%3Fgpinv%3D-EEjg037hmk%3AFVTYS0WnZ0Y as I couldn’t find you on there! (good for any of you other folks, too!)

    Also, I wanted to know how “active” was defined in this context. Thanks for the post, it makes me think of how Wikipedia was defined as quite the boys club a way back, too. I wonder if that stat is any different now.

    -Olga
    chunkofchange.com

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