Last week, Experian Hitwise released a report that said that Google Plus, the latest social networking adventure from the search giant, was seeing a decline in visits just a month after it was launched. In addition, the report states that Facebook visitors spent 4 times as long per visit as those on Google+.
Of course, pundits have jumped on these stats and declared that the sky is falling on yet another attempt by Google to conquer the social landscape (remember Buzz?). They claim that the content is stale, and no one is posting despite the prevalence of +1 buttons and the Google toolbar across the top of all of their assets.
This got me to trying to remember what Facebook and Twitter were like back in the dark ages, and how my use has changed over time.
For me, Facebook has always been about personal social interaction (as opposed to business), and has also become quite local for me. Many of the local businesses that I frequent have pages which I subscribe to, resulting in it being more of a way for me to keep up with what’s happening in my town. And of course there are the apps… I count 46 of them on my account, ranging (alphabetically and functionally) from BranchOut to SlideShare. Think of how many people spend the day playing Farmville and other Zynga games.
Twitter is another story. I never even use the Twitter web interface anymore, opting for apps like TweetDeck. I share information from a whole slew of 3rd party applications. most of them on my phone.
Which leads us back to Google+. Yes, there are ‘only’ about 10+ million of us out there using it, and it seems like the primary topic of conversation is, well, Google+. Circles are cool, Sparks are lame, having integrated gchat and Picasa helps, but in the end it is only the innovations that Google has provided.
And that is what is missing so far, innovation. The collective ideas of the masses. The type of innovation that would explode with the release and support of the Google+ API. The type of innovation that made Facebook and Twitter use skyrocket.
Google, of course, knows this. It is a bit surprising that they haven’t released their API yet - I am sure they have good reasons. And when they do, the programming world will jump on quickly. And when that happens, Google+ traffic will spike, the content will build, the users will come, and Facebook will get a run for its money.
(By the way – if you want a Google+ invite, let us know)