Chances are you saw someone in your social network sharing the Wall Street Journal‘s recent story on the average time spent on different social media sites. Unfortunately for Google, that social network was probably Facebook.
According to comScore, users spent an average of only three minutes on Google+ last month, compared to 405 minutes on Facebook and 89 minutes on hot newcomer Pinterest. Think about that: three minutes over the course of 31 days.
That’s not good news for Google, which has been proudly touting impressive-sounding growth numbers. Google+ has registered 90 million total users since June — an unheard of growth rate, even in the fast-shifting world of social media.
So if people are enthusiastically signing up by the millions, why aren’t they actually using the site? It certainly has some unique features. The Hangouts, widely promoted in a series of slick ads, are popular enough that President Obama’s team decided to hold one after the State of the Union address.
The trouble is, while a perfectly fine social network, Google+ is nowhere near as engaging as the other site that 845 million people are already hooked on (Facebook, of course). Google+ has seen tremendous growth, but how much of that can be attributed to how incredibly easy it is to subscribe to the service?
Signing up for Gmail? You now have a Google+ account! Google has been extremely aggressive in leveraging its massive reach across all areas of the Internet to grow Google+ membership. People sign up for services like Pinterest and Tumblr because they see their friends getting excited about them; in comparison, signing up for Google+ almost feels accidental.
Of course, creating another Facebook isn’t Google’s goal. Its recent strategy — including the decision to add personal search results with “Search, plus Your World” — seems to be making the social network a source of valuable personal information that can be integrated into the rest of Google’s products.
To that extent, it’s been successful. Still, it would be nice if people spent more time on Google+ in a month than it took for you to finish reading this story.