Oct. 7, 2011 at 2:35 PM ET
Even after Google+ dropped its invite-only system and opened itself to a curious public, its traffic fell by more than 60 percent after an initial surge of 1,200 percent.
Chitika Insights, the research arm of online ad service Chitika, found that Google+ increased its user base, but the effect was only temporary. They "took a look at Google+ before and after it went public to see if the social network was living up to the hype." In terms of page views, the site spiked when it went public, and then went down again.
Before Google+ went public in mid-September, it had already intrigued 25 million users, and rabid trackers said the numbers are more like 43 million by now. The uptick in traffic following the opening of the site seemed to indicate that Google+ had just gained more lives.
"It would appear that although high levels of publicity were able to draw new traffic to Google+, few of them saw reason to stay," said Chitka, in its report released Friday.
Chitika asks the question many of us might: "Given the huge amount of publicity and resources Google+ has received, why hasn’t the social network taken off?"
They believe they have a few answers:
We believe there are two driving reasons for this lack of interest:
- The supply of users for social media sites is limited. To survive you must stand out and provide a service that others do not.
- Features unique to your site must be just that – unique and difficult to duplicate – if they are not, the competitive advantage quickly disappears.
And Chitika Insights isn't very optimistic about the future of Google+:
Perhaps if Google can accelerate their current pace of innovation on their social network offering, Google+ could becoming a competitive alternative to its arch-rival, Facebook. Otherwise, given Facebook’s clout and reputation of rapid innovation, Google+ might just be left in the dust.
Its researchers came to a similar conclusion in August, after analyzing data from the end of July:
Since its launch, Google+ has undergone a surge in use, peaking at .007% of total web traffic on July 20th – a massive increase of users over a relatively short amount of time. Predictions began to be thrown around that, if Google+ were to continue this rate of growth, it would only be a short while before Facebook was overshadowed by Google. However, this was not the case – Google+ experienced a 34% erosion of its traffic from July 20th to July 31st. These results are in stark contrast to an earlier Insights study which indicated a 300% increase in the interest for Google+ from July 3rd to July 11th.
But at least that analysis had some upnotes to it: "If Google continues to integrate Google+ across its vast mix of services, remedies some of its issues and bugs, and opens its borders to public use, perhaps Google+ will resume its upwards trend of growth."
Do you think Google+ has peaked? Answer our poll and let us know.