When Google+ was first launched, many questioned Google’s ability to create a social network that could find a home among powerhouses like Facebook and Twitter. These questions were highly warranted, of course, considering the company’s shaky track record after the failed experiments of Google Buzz and Orkut (though the latter isn’t really considered to be in that same category of “failure” as it’s still a popular social network in countries like Brazil and India).
Welp, here we are — a whole 19 months later — and it’s being reported that Google+ has climbed all the way from the depths of social networking nothingness to become the second most active social network in the past month. The service passed up YouTube, Twitter MySpace and LinkedIn quite handily, according to a report by UK research firm Trendstream.
If accurate, it’s not hard to explain how or why Google+ has gotten so big. For starters, Android and the Google Play Store deserves a big honorable mention. Google changed the Google Play Store in recent months to require people to use their Google+ profiles (which almost everyone with a Google account has) in order to leave user reviews. Google’s efforts to implement Google+ functionality in other services such as YouTube and Gmail don’t hurt, either. It might be cheating just a tad, but it’s still impressive.
Still, if you’re not winning you’re losing, so the fact that Facebook still commands an insurmountable lead will overshadow this news. The social network, which the movie “The Social Network” was shamelessly based on, reportedly had 693 million active users in this period compared to 343 million for Google+. Literally everyone might not have a Facebook account, but you would be hard-pressed to find a room full of people without one in this day and age (unless you’re doing stand-up at the old folks’ home, of course).
Google’s strategy is working to some degree, but the company still has some work to do to make these numbers less artificial. A ton of people do use Google+ out of sheer fun and interest, but we imagine that a rather large percentage of its growth has a lot more to do with Google’s wizardry and leveraging skills than anything else.