Photo: Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images
After Google released what appeared to be some pretty impressive numbers on its fledgling social network, Google+, the wet blankets of the tech punditry world went into overdrive to smack down Google and CEO Larry Page.Larry Page said Google has 90 million users, with 60% of those users “very engaged with our products,” using them on a daily basis. It’s a slippery trick of the tongue that makes it sound like 54 million people are using Google+ on a daily basis, when in reality 54 million Google+ users are doing other stuff with Google.
And, so the techno-chamber exploded accusing Google of fudging numbers and started making demands for some sort of detailed forensic analysis of Google’s engagement data.
Should Google be more forthright and honest about its data? Certainly.
But here’s what’s being missed by all the people quick to pull the trigger on Google’s muddled presentation of its data: Google+ is a success.
Since Google isn’t handing out any hard data, it’s much harder to prove it’s a success with an airtight case, but something in my gut tells me this is working out surprisingly well for Google.
Speaking with a current Google employee I was struck at how happy he seemed to be with its adoption. And we haven’t heard of any big cracks or leaks from Googlers or “people close to Google” about disappointment in Google+. Everything coming from the company officially and unofficially suggests its doing well.
Another reason my gut tells me Google+ is working: If Google+ was a flop, I don’t think Twitter would be throwing a hissy fit over changes Google is making to search engine. There’s something weird about how angry Twitter is over Google+ going into Google. Twitter can’t rely on search for visitors that much, can it? (If you know the real story, email me at [email protected])
Unlike Google Buzz, or Wave, or Orkut, or any number of half measures from Google, Google+ has some traction with people. Google could have just as easily shoved Buzz down our throats as +, but it didn’t because people hated it. People don’t hate Google+.
Maybe users aren’t hanging out in Google+ like they do at Facebook. That’s OK. Google doesn’t need them to do that. It needs users to click on the +1 button from time to time, and send signals to Google so it can tweak and improve its core businesses of search and display advertising.
(And for what it’s worth, I’m personally finding that a lot of people do hangout at Google+. I have roughly the same amount of followers on Twitter as Google+. The Google+ audience is much more responsive.)
The cliched truism in the Valley is that Google “doesn’t get social.” It turns out Google does get social, and some people just can’t accept it. Google+ is doing very well, even if the numbers from Page are a little fishy.