Despite a recent report from Experian Hitwise claiming that Google+ was fading significantly, the new social network from the search engine behemoth has finally hit the 25 million visitor mark. I say finally, but it’s worth remembering that the new social network has only been around since June this year, and it still is an invitation-only network. What’s even better news for Google + is that users are now spending more time on the site according to comScore, so that’s a double result for them.
The social network, which was introduced on June 28, hit the 25 million visitors mark on July 24, according to Andrew Lipsman, vice president of industry analysis at comScore. That means there have been 25 million unique visitors to the Google+ website, not counting mobile users. What must be pleasing for Google is that the rate of growth of the social network over this period, far outstripped that of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. However, it’s important to add a sense of balance to the story. Google+ may be exceeding all expectations, but it will need at least another 700 million unique visitors before it can even begin to compete with Facebook. So, it’s got a way to go.
An earlier report by Experian Hitwise had demonstrated that visits to Google+ fell by 3% for the week ending July 23, compared to the previous week: it also claimed that the average time spent on the site fell by 10% for the same period. However, comScore’s research shows people spent about 50% more time on the network in the week ending July 24 than in the week that ended on July 10. So read into those statistics what you may. They may seem contradictory, but both are apparently factually correct. I guess it’s all down to interpretation.
The major reason for Goggle+’s surprise growth levels appears to lie in Gmail penetration. Generally speaking, Google+ seems to thrive where Gmail thrives. It makes perfect sense to Andrew Lipsman: “If you think about it, Gmail is where your social network through Google is likely to exist.” He estimates that roughly 20% market penetration is the tipping point for social networks, and that, once they reach that level they tend to become firmly established. If that’s the case, then Google+ is well on its way to tipping this balance. When it is eventually open to all, the rate of growth will presumably escalate, making the first month’s figures look conservative.