Google+ experienced a huge growth spurt after the social network opened to the public, indicating it may soon bypass more established social networks, including LinkedIn and Twitter.
According to market researcher Experian Hitwise, Google+ grew by 1,269 per cent last week. The traffic still isn’t near Facebook, but it could overtake sites like MySpace and LinkedIn if its growth continues.
Experian reported Google+ had 15 million visits during the week of September 24, compared to 1.8 billion visits on Facebook, showing Google+ has a long way to go before it reaches Facebook’s level.
Google+ may have marked such rapid growth because the social site opened to the public, after weeks in a beta status, allowing users who may have been curious but unable to finally visit the site.
Also, Google’s top-rated search engine may have led people to the network, according to Experian. All search results on the site now include a Google+ icon, which allows searchers to recommend pages to the social network. People who click the icon are now taken directly to the social network.
The rapid growth shows Google+ can compete against much more established sites. Experian said Google+ ranked in eighth place among social networks, just behind LinkedIn and MySpace by week’s end. Also, just after it opened for the public, Google+ even briefly overtook Twitter for third place.
Facebook may even have led people to check out Google+, which opened to the general public just as Facebook unveiled changes that were not well received by many of its users. Facebook’s new news feed and layout shares an unprecedented amount of information among users, meaning some Facebook users upset with the changes may have gone looking for an alternative.
Facebook has several new sharing mechanisms, but personal privacy is the main selling feature on Google+, which features a “Circles” setting that allows users to share information with only the people they want. Meanwhile, Facebook’s new Ticker, which shows people’s activities both on and off the site, including what music they’re listening to, has led to criticism from many users because it shares information with more people than ever.
It’s too soon to tell if Google+’s growth will continue, or if the spike was just the result of the site’s opening to the general public. However, if Google+ can maintain its growth and continue to attract new users, the social network may continue to climb in the social media rankings.
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