One Week In, Google+ Users Are Growing Followers, Getting Traffic

Just over a week old, how’s Google+ doing? Comprehensive stats are hard to come by. But from our own experience, along with some other stats out there such as a new top Google+ accounts list, it seems to easily be eclipsing its Google Buzz predecessor.

Google Buzz Never Really Buzzed

Search Engine Land has been on Google Buzz since it launched in February 2010. We’ve had links to our Google Buzz account from our web site for nearly as long, in all the same locations as you’ll find links to our Twitter and Facebook accounts.

In those 17 months, our Facebook fans increased by nearly 16,000. Our Twitter followers increased naturally by about 35,000. Our LinkedIn group rose by 12,000.

Google Buzz? It’s almost at 1,000, at the moment. That’s growth, but nothing like what’s happened on the other social networks.

Just One Week For Google+ To Beat Buzz

In contrast, Google+ is rocketing along. Within one week, we’re at the 1,000 follower mark for our Search Engine Land account on Google Plus. One week to reach that milestone, versus 17 months at Google Buzz.

It’s not just us. I’ve tracked other accounts on Google Buzz on a regular basis, those that were active on the service early on. The stats are impressive when you compare those same accounts to what’s happening on Google Plus.

Mashable hit 22,000 followers on Google Buzz in its first month then largely went nowhere, relatively speaking. Mashable currently has about 27,000 Google Buzz followers. After 17 months, it grew only about 5,000 followers in all.

In just one week on Google+, Mashable has reached about 9,000 followers. That’s still below Google Buzz, but if it sees similar growth over the next three weeks, Mashable will easily pass its Buzz count.

More Beating Buzz

Louis Gray and Robert Scoble both have accounts, and I’ve joked they’re my personal canaries in the social media coal mine. They’re always way out in front of anyone else on a new social network.

If the network doesn’t seem to be growing, they’ll be the only voices I hear, despite me following many others. When they’re drowned out, I know the network feels healthy. At first, I heard them both on Google+ louder than others. That hasn’t been the case recently. Plenty of others are talking.

As for how they’re growing, Louis has about 4,500 followers on Google Buzz, built up over the past 17 months. On Google+, he’s at 4,000, at the time I write this. In one week, he’s nearly surpassing Buzz.

Robert has 13,000 Google Buzz followers. As of today, he’s well surpassed that, with over 16,000 followers on Google Plus.

As for myself, I’ve maintained a Google Buzz account since it started and gained 2,400 followers there. Like Robert, my Google+ account has easily surpassed that, currently at 3,900 followers reported publicly.

Public Counts Behind

Publicly? Yes, Google+ follower counts shown to the public are lower than what someone will see when logged in and checking their own account. Currently, I can see I have just over 5,000 people following me, or “have me in circles,” to use the Google+ vernacular.

It’s an important point, because it means when you’re looking at public figures to assess how Google+ seems to be doing, those figures may be significantly lower. In other words, if you think things are growing now, just wait until the next day’s figures get posted.

Who’s Most Followed On Google Plus?

Leading on from that, where can you find the most followed people on Google+, especially if you want to compare them to measure Google+ against other services?

Google+ Statistics (also called Social Statistics) seems the best place to check right now. It has a top 50 list of Google+ users (and you can go well beyond the top 50, too).

The list might be missing people. If Google+ Statistics hasn’t manually entered someone into its database — or if someone hasn’t registered themselves — then those statistics aren’t tracked. Still, the service probably has the most accurate counts you’re going to find right now.

Mark Zuckerberg Has 700 Million & 41,000 Friends

Who tops the list? Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, with over 41,000 followers despite the fact that he’s done absolutely nothing on the service except to claim his account (and yes, it is him).

Larry & Sergey Take 2nd &  3rd Place

In second place is Google CEO Larry Page with over 28,000 followers. Unlike Zuckerberg, Page has been posting, mainly about kitesurfing in Alaska.

Google cofounder Sergey Brin is in third with about 22,000 followers. He’s posted a bit, but he’s more notable for the photos he had previously uploaded to Google Picasa.

Those have gained comments that have flowed into Google+, giving the impression Brin was hopscotching the globe on a neverending adventure sports quest. He posted an explanation two days ago, to clarify things.

Matt Cutts: 6th Most Popular On Google+

The Google run continues with Google’s senior vice president of all things social, Vic Gundotra, in fourth with 19,000 followers.

Next comes the aforementioned Scoble and in sixth, a familiar face to our readers, the head of Google’s spam fighting team Matt Cutts, with 13,000 followers.

Home Court Advantage?

Some have remarked that you’d expect Googlers to do well on their own services. So for a point of contrast, or a reality check, some figures:

Clearly those from particular companies can have a “home court” advantage. So what about those who don’t work for the companies?

Are There “Network Neutral” Participants?

Even that’s tough. Take actress Felicia Day. She’s currently ranked 26th on Google+ with about 4,000 followers. Will that grow to top her nearly 400,000 fans on Facebook?

Maybe, But then comparing to her 1.8 million followers on Twitter isn’t fair to either Google+ or Facebook, given that she was on the old suggested users list with Twitter (and so got a boost) and still is likely recommended through the current system.

Similarly, I get recommended through Twitter’s current system. And while I maintain a Facebook fan page, I’m not very active there. Anyone trying to use me to benchmark Facebook against Twitter perhaps might assume there was something wrong Facebook. That wouldn’t be accurate.

Finding someone who is “network neutral” — so to speak — is hard, especially when Google+ remains with limited invitations. There’s also the complexity of whether people are doing paid campaigns or if they’re simply more appealing on one platform than another.

Unleash The Celebrities!

Perhaps the best cross-platform benchmark will be when major celebrities begin appearing.

Sure, Ashton Kutcher is already on Google+, currently at 50th with about 2,500 followers, a number that is sure to rise. But Kutcher has been the go-to celebrity for social media, especially Twitter, for ages.

What will really be interesting is when Oprah or Martha or Lady Gaga arrive, assuming they do. That’ll give a much better sense of how Google+ is measuring up against the other services.

Brands Have Arrived, Even If Google+ Doesn’t Want Them Yet

They’re all welcome to arrive now, of course, if they get invites. But not as brands. Accounts for brand purposes remain officially verboten.

Unofficially, brands are setting up house within Google+, and it seems more and more unlikely that this will be something that Google will stop. Here are some early brand adopters:

Yes, Search Engine Land on the list. I started our account without realizing that you really shouldn’t, after seeing other do it. Potentially, it could be closed — as might all the others on the list. But then, is Google going to close these media accounts:

Those are just some from a list that Zach Seward has compiled. Seward, by the way, is the Wall Street Journal’s social media editor. I’m sure he’s feeling the pressure to jump in.

Ford certainly felt that pressure and didn’t wait. ClickZ had a nice piece yesterday covering how Ford Motor Company is now on Google+, despite the lack of brand support.

Of Brands & Last Names

One tricky thing with trying to shoehorn brand pages into Google+ is that any profile requires a first and last name. Some get around this by using a period as their “last name” (both Search Engine Land and The Next Web do this). Others add something else (Mashable goes by the last name of “News”).

One puzzling thing, however, is how Tweakers.net ended up with what appears to be a one word name. This isn’t a case of making “.net” be the last name. There would be a space, if that were happening.

Perhaps a review request was placed with Google, something it’ll prompt you to do, if you try to use unusual characters in your name. If so, perhaps the approval was given without much thought about what this means for the “no brand pages” policy. Maybe it was a preexisting page that was created before this apparently new “no brands” rule was created.

Our Google+ “Pages” Coming For Businesses story from last week goes into more depth about what Google has said in regard to brand pages. In short, there’s no set date on when this will happen, though it is said to be coming.

Totting Up The Traffic

Finally, how about traffic? MG Siegler did a post yesterday saying that TechCrunch was noticing “large” amounts of traffic coming from Google Plus. That resonated with me, because I’d just checked our stats before his piece came out and had the same “wow” reaction.

In particular, for the past three days, links that we’ve put out through our Search Engine Land account have generated about 750 visits per day from Google Plus. That’s not far behind our Facebook page, which has sent about 900 visits per day. Twitter beats both at about 2,500 per day, over that period.

Most of our stories in that time have been about Google, of course, so we have a natural audience at Google Plus. But then again, most of the stories that hit our Facebook wall were also about Google, and they still pulled people in.

Our traffic from Google+, Facebook and Twitter is actually more, by the way. I’m only talking about traffic from links we deliberately shared and tagged with tracking codes. Tracking all traffic coming from each source is more difficult (and if I did that, LinkedIn would beat them all — but that’s a story for the future). But using the codes gave me a quick and easy apples-to-apples comparison.

Each site’s own traffic will vary, of course. Google+ might turn out to be great for one; not so much for another. The same can already be true of Twitter and Facebook.

Future Remains Unknown But Sure Brighter Than Buzz

Bottom line? It’s still incredibly early for anyone to be declaring the success or failure of Google Plus. The service has a long way to go, and still much to prove, as the new social network smell begins to wear off. Will people stick with it, especially those who aren’t early adopters with the special invites?

We’ll see. But I do feel confident in saying that after its first week, Google+ seems a far better success than Google Buzz was.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Features: Analysis | Google: Google+ | Top News

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • http://www.prunderground.com P.R.U.

    Can’t understand Google plus still not allowing invites. I have two invites and still cannot get in?. Is anyone experiencing this issue?

  • Ed Hockey

    I have the same issue. I have been trying to register but keep getting the same holding screen. Pretty poor user experience if they are actively seeking people out (i.e. celebs like Stephen Fry) to be on it, rather than letting people sign up.

  • Betty Slocombe

    They are still trying to fix some bugs, like this for example: http://blogs.ft.com/fttechhub/2011/06/google-plus-privacy-flaw

  • http://blog.necomputersolutions.com/ brossa

    It’s still in a testing stage, I’m sure they’ll work out the obvious bugs soon. I’m more concerned with some of their long term policies, such as their stance against private profiles. I still think that they can be a major competitor for Facebook; everyone already knows and uses Google even if they haven’t been using their social networks, and there are a lot of people who have been on Facebook long enough to become very frustrated but what they perceive as major privacy issues.

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