Google’s new social network, Google+, attracted over 25 million users in less than a month, according to research firm ComScore, outpacing Facebook and Twitter to become the fastest-growing website to reach the milestone.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company, which launched Google+ in late June, had 6.5 million visitors from the U.S., its largest market, followed by India with 3.6 million. For comparison, Facebook took around three years to reach 25 million visitors, while MySpace needed about two years and Twitter 30 months.
The data shows Google+ is growing, but the results don’t necessarily predict its long-term success. For example, MySpace, once a social network juggernaut, hemorrhaged much of its users this past year alone, ComScore said.
The long-term success of social networks matters little with the volume of visitors, but rather, the depth of interaction between them. Users with more active friends on a site are more likely to keep using it.
Still, the first hurdle is getting people to start using it, which Google+ has proven it can achieve. But the strength of the social bonds between its users needs to be grown slowly, as each successive wave of looser-integrated friends are added to the network.
That is, in part, the reason Facebook has such a strong “stickiness” factor. Started at Harvard, it grew to just the Ivy League schools, before universities and then the public.
Google+ implemented features that may help distinguish it from other social networks and encourage users to spend time on the site with friends. Its “Hangouts” feature, which allows group video chat, has piqued interest. The service is also set to roll out an API to allow developers to make games for Google+, in a move to replicate the success of games like “Farmville” on Facebook.
The incorporation of more interactivity, whether through communication or gaming, will serve to create a destination that users return to repeatedly.
The problem facing Google+ now is whether opening it to such a wide audience will keep visitors going long after the initial buzz has died down. When it does, the quality of the interaction will determine whether it becomes the next Facebook or MySpace.