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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

  1. 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.

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  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.

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    1. Colleen Taylor Friday, August 19, 2011

      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.

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  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.

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    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…

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

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      2. Sharon Machlis Friday, August 19, 2011

        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?

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      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!

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      4. Sharon Machlis Monday, August 22, 2011

        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.

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      5. Sharon Machlis Monday, August 22, 2011

        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?

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      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?

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    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.

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    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+ :)

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    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.

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

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    6. Colleen Taylor Monday, August 22, 2011

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

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

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

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  5. 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.

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  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.

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  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)?

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  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.

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

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  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

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  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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  11. 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+ :)

    Oh, and I did manage to find Colleen on +, only by going thru finding you, not via the main search. Colleen, you last post on + looks to be July 12, maybe you are qualified as “inactive”!

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    1. Olga,

      That was great that you punched in the face, really!

      Seriously, active/inactive definition need to be put first before write off or giving statistical data which may not make much sense!! Amit :)

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  12. Google+ still needs to hit that “threshold” where the network effect truly kicks in. Facebook was able to do it without needing to accumulate 20+ million users in 2 months because they opened their service to a few colleges at a time where each user (the student) that joins makes being a part of Facebook ever more useful from the very beginning. Put in another way, your friends were on Facebook mainly because most of your friends went to the same school as you.

    Google+ doesn’t benefit from this as they’ve only limited signups through an invite process which rely on users to do the job of recruiting new users. As a result, we’ve seen most new signups from people on Twitter and Facebook, places where it’s easy and well understood how to share things with other people. Once someone joined though, the predominant reaction is, “This feels like a mix of Twitter and Facebook.” Which isn’t surprising since that’s probably how you got invited in the first place.

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    1. John Harrington, Jr. Tuesday, August 23, 2011

      I don’t think they ever will hit the threshold you’re talking about. Don’t let the buzz about Google+’ early success and popularity fool you, all they’ve done is reinvent the social networking wheel http://bit.ly/pHlaUU

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  13. I have been trying to get a Google+ invite since it started and I think it has been turning me away because I am a woman. I tried accessing it as a ficticiuos man and got in right away

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  14. Everyone signed up and then posted FB status lines about how boring it is. Seriously, why would I want to share my life in another social network? What’s in it for me?

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  15. I have a Masters degree and have a pretty diversified social circle. All my buddies are on Facebook still and Google+ is dead for me.

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  16. Google+ is not so widely accepted among youngsters due to some reasons. Most of them are not willing to leave facebook even they joined and were active on facebook for some days.

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  17. Barry Ritholtz Saturday, August 20, 2011

    What is the inactive data for Facebook? I would imagine its enormous as well

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  18. I think the numbers are pretty accurate/ I’ve been a daily user of G+ since the day it launched. It’s pretty clear that most people don’t post anything, but are there to read the content posted by the small % of active power posters who are widely made up of tech bloggers – (Mashable, TechCrunch and MySpace Tom Anderson). The reason most are “inactive” is because they don’t have enough or any people from their real life on G+ to share with yet. It’s that simple. This said, just because you are not posting doesn’t mean you aren’t active. Reading and viewing other posts/photos/comments is still active behavior. When I went on vacation for a week and had no internet access, it took me 5 minutes to catch up on Facebook but 1.5hrs to catch up on G+. Yet, all my friends and family are on FB and only about 2 or 3 are on G+. Fact is the content on G+ and levels of conversation are vastly more interesting than the self-promoting and/or amateur attempts at being a comedian posts that dominate my FB feed. It should also be noted that 80% of my FB feed is typically generated by the same handful of 10 people who make up my lists of 3275 “friends”. Anyway, I’m dying to be able to “share” more on G+ and I think others are as well. But until more of our real life friends/fam arrive, we will prob remain as “active” readers only. Will this day ever come? Way too early to tell at this point.

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    1. that’s 275 FB friends, not 3275

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  19. Give it some time. They need something on there that will appeal to the kids. Games will help.

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  20. This had to happen, Google+ has users thanks to gmail accounts we have :)

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  21. What is up with that infographic? Trying to look at it in large format loads some kind of flash interface that you then need to click to load the image, which then tries to recompute the data on the fly which times out and leaves my fans spinning like cray-zee.

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  22. FB definies it active users as those who log in atleast once a month,by that metric all of g+ users are active:-)

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  23. This is not surprising, but i feel that people will start using Google + slowly and it will gain momentum when everyone will be on this platform. I must admin that “Invitation Only” is a big deterrent.

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  24. Fons Tuinstra Monday, August 22, 2011

    Maybe all social media have a majority of lurkers, but when you have that already within the first two months of your existence, that could be reason to worry.

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  25. Claim: ‘83% of Google+ users are inactive’ Reality? Nope
    http://blogs.computerworld.com/18831/claim_83_of_google_users_are_inactive_reality_nope

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  26. St. John Smith Monday, August 22, 2011

    Lack of a Symbian client for Google+ along with nonsense from Google themselves has pretty much determined which social site I would use (Symbian has not one but two Facebook clients for my phone + FB messaging on a third one). Cheers!

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  27. It’s simple really……you are not going to be as active on a site that you don’t have tons of friends on. Google+ will pick up slowly but surely.

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  28. I read it somewhere that more than 80% or Google + users are inactive and don’t use Google+ often. I blame the invitation only policy.

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  29. What’s with the strike-throughs? Has new information invalidated the lion’s-share comments? *puzzled*

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  30. Google Plus was launched to rein Facebook in the Social Networking arena, but I don’t think it’s going to happen in coming future. That’s why I’m not surprised by the stats made available by GigaOm and Bime Analytics.

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