While Facebook might not be going down per say, a new report by Searchmetrics analyzing over 30 trillion social signals suggests that Google+ could overtake Facebook in total sharing as early as 2016! This prediction follows a wide range of recent reports on Google+, some claiming it is bigger than Twitter, others saying that Google+ is a complete ghost town.
Social Signals: Google+ vs. Facebook
Facebook is still worlds ahead, but Google+ is growing like crazy. Measuring the number of shares in the US from both networks between January 2012 and April 2013, Google+ activity grew by 788%. Despite seeing more moderate growth of 202%, Facebook is incredibly large relative to Google+. To put that in better perspective, the absolute number of total shares on Facebook was still fifteen times greater than that of Google+. Though the blue monster is still far ahead, Google appears to be gaining. But is Facebook really uncatchable?
That question is no longer a no-brainer. Google has a ton of services that make it almost impossible not to sign up for a Google+ account, like Gmail, Drive, and Analytics. A large contingent of that broad strategy comes from Android activations on smartphones, which make it mandatory for users to log into or create a Google+ account. Not to mention that Google recently announced the Android operating system has reached over 900 million activations. Last year alone accounted for over 100% growth on the basis of 400 million new Android users:
When could Google+ be bigger than Facebook?
If this growth continues, the question isn’t could Google+ be bigger than Facebook, but rather, when? As noted in the study, several external factors alter how social networks evolve, and growth rates are constantly changing. But looking at the growth rates of the two giants over just the last six months in terms of the number of social shares, Facebook saw a monthly average growth rate of almost 10% compared to 19% for Google. If this pace of growth continues, Google+ will overtake Facebook within three years, by February 2016!
A more realistic situation, perhaps, would be for Google+ to continue to grow at its rapid pace, slowly converging towards Facebook as their market for potential users becomes saturated, like Facebook’s. While Google certainly has an advantage in driving new users to join Google+ through their multitude of services and apps, will Google+ ever be cool enough for mainstream users to actually use? To me, both Facebook and Google+ are a wash, feature-wise, with Facebook having more people on board and Google+ providing SEO benefits for websites. But the real question, and the only one that matters in the long run, is this: will your friends ever log into Google+?
Which social network behemoth do you prefer? Do you think Google+ has a chance to take down Facebook one day?