Google+ Reaches 100 Million “Social Network” Users (& How This Is Different From Past Milestones)

Yesterday, Google announced that it had 400 million people who had “upgraded” to Google+, a statistic we’ve had updated over time. But many have wanted to know how many people actually use Google+ itself, not just have accounts enabled for it. That’s finally been revealed: 100 million. Below, a guide to how this figure fits in with past ones Google has given.

Google+ Accounts

Both figures were in a Google+ post from Vic Gundotra, Senior Vice President, Engineering at Google:

This week we also hit an important milestone–over 400,000,000 people have upgraded to Google+. It was only a year ago that we opened public sign-up, and we couldn’t have imagined that so many people would join in just 12 months.

While Google+ is all about creating a better experience across Google, it’s also a destination. And here too, I’m happy to report that we have just crossed 100,000,000 monthly active users on Google+ (plus.google.com and mobile app).

Let’s start with the first figure, the 400 million accounts. Number of Google+ capable accounts has been a standard metric that Google has provided been displayed since public launch of Google+.

To help show what this means from an account growth standpoint, we’ve compiled the following graph of all publicly released Google+ account milestones:

Overall, yesterday’s account milestone number was a big jump from the numbers released just two months ago. From the last update at Google I/O in July, Google+ has seen a 60% increase up from 250 million accounts to 400 million accounts.

It should also be noted that in late January 2012, Google required new accounts to sign-up for a Google+ enabled account — something that likely contributed to this year’s growth.

Google+ “Social Layer” Users

In February, an ”active monthly user” milestone was released for the first time that covered all Google+ users that touched data across the web. The number released was 100 million active monthly users. This included anyone with a Google+ account that made a Google+ action anywhere on the web. This means that a user +1′ing a mobile app, using Circles in Gmail, or +1′ing a web page would count towards this number.

In July at Google I/O, we got an update on this figure, which rose to 150 million active monthly users. There’s not been a further update, so here’s the chart of what we know so far:

Remember, the figure above is for what we could call “social layer” usage. That’s different than what comes next, about usage on the actual Google+ social network.

Google+ “Social Network” Users

While the metric released in July was impressive, many people wanted more granular data on usage of the network. The “social layer” figure includes many users who may not actually use Google+ itself as a social network.

Yesterday, Google finally released a milestone of 100 million active monthly social network users who either visited plus.google.com or used the mobile app. This is the first time that this metric has ever been released to the public.

This metric clearly shows that many users are actively interacting with the Google+ social network, not just the various buttons & Google+ functionality found on other sites. It also shows a somewhat low engagement of the social network itself as only 25% of Google+ accounts are using the service as a social network.

Active Monthly User Comparison

So, you’ve now seen all the historical monthly usage data — how does yesterday’s milestone stack up to previous numbers? The answer is that it doesn’t. The active social network usage is a different metric from the two other metrics (registered accounts; social layer users) released before. It’s apples and oranges.

When the 100 million active monthly users data came out, many folks (including myself) saw this as a 33% drop from July’s 150 million number. In reality the “active monthly user” numbers are very different in everything except their title and simply cannot be compared. While the data is interesting, it is impossible to tell if there has been an increase or decrease in Google+ active monthly usage.

Is this helpful? Yes. Is this annoying? Also, yes.

While we can’t draw any comparison conclusions from this data, it is nice to see that Google is opening up specific data specifically for social network usage. Here’s to hoping the next milestone gives us something to compare to.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Features & Analysis | Google | Google: Google+ | Social Media Marketing | Statistics: Social Media

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About The Author: is the Director of Marketing for Cypress North, a company that specializes in social media and search marketing services and web-based application development. He has been in the Internet marketing industry for 6+ years and specializes in Social Media Marketing. You can also find Greg on Twitter (@gregfinn) or LinkedIn.

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



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  • Joe Ford

    So, the million dollar question, is G+ worth using as a valuable social media platform? If all the right numbers are rising except the one that counts, “users engaging”, why bother?!

  • http://www.maxminzer.com/ Max Minzer

    Are you still doubting?
    I honestly can’t believe that people in marketing are still doubting Google+. It makes absolutely no sense to me.
    As far as engagement goes: if you’re not engaging – don’t expect anyone to engage with you. Very simple.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rob-Bonham/100002208082276 Rob Bonham

    Ya, its easy for Google to

  • http://www.facebook.com/GregFinn Greg Finn

    Rob, The number of monthly active accounts of the social network is reportedly 100 million users – so about 1/4th.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rob-Bonham/100002208082276 Rob Bonham

    Yes, G+ is important as a marketer, but it’s only really a worthwhile marketing endeavor if the everyday consumer is using it as well. Every brand and marketer could be on G+ but if the consumer isn’t there you are simply yelling down empty aisles. Imagine an empty store and the manager comes over the PA system announcing an enticing special. If no one is there to hear it, does it matter?

  • http://www.WeAreSpoke.com creativereason

    I’ve tried engaging several times and had no results (on a personal level, as an early adopter with a lot of people in circles). The people in my social circles aren’t there (real social circles, not g+’s). Seems the only ones who are there and active are either folks in SEO industry, or über Google fans who don’t like Facebook.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rob-Bonham/100002208082276 Rob Bonham

    Thanks Greg, just reread and saw it :)

  • http://www.maxminzer.com/ Max Minzer

    There’s only one person you can blame for your G+ being not engaging and you perfectly know who it is.

    You also need to understand that posting on G+ is not that same as posting on Facebook. Same as posting on Twitter is different from posting on Facebook.

    I wanted engagement there – I stopped trying and actually started engaging. It worked.
    A lot of my friends are not in categories you described and have all the engagement they can get.

    There’s no reason for me to argue about this. You’ll all be there soon anyway regretting that you missed the train.
    #endofrant

  • http://www.maxminzer.com/ Max Minzer

    It was the same with Apple years ago (people were saying it’s dead) and we didn’t learn anything.
    Just have a bit of an open mind to think about that one…

  • http://www.WeAreSpoke.com creativereason

    We’ll have to agree to disagree. My “friends” circle (real-life friends which includes a lot of people I chat with in gchat) has one post since Aug 24. My local folks who are in the web business circle has 4 posts since yesterday. Real numbers, real people, not exactly all the “engagement” I can handle. I’m not missing any train, keep ranting if you’d like.

  • http://www.maxminzer.com/ Max Minzer

    Ever heard of:
    Facebook is for your close friends and family.
    Google+ is for making new friends.

    If that was not the intention of why you joined and engaged on G+ – don’t expect to see anything significant. This “local” and “family” engagement will get bigger and bigger after a while but this shouldn’t be the emphasis now. Because the platform and features on G+ were not built for that purpose.

    I can spend hours talking about how many people I was able to meet offline and how many people I could meet through video because of Google+ engagement. And this was nothing related to marketing or SEO.
    Sharing my experience here. I’m satisfied with my engagement. G+ might not be working well for your personality – and that fine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rob-Bonham/100002208082276 Rob Bonham

    OK, so if G+ can stay ahead of the curve and continually innovate better than Facebook they might win me over. But I’m still not convinced the consumer sees G+ as viable medium to stay in touch with brands. What brands are doing it “right”?

  • http://www.maxminzer.com/ Max Minzer

    That’s fine. What was wrong though is media bashing G+ for over a year now calling it names and comparing it to other networks that are much older.
    It’s like saying that “my 10-year old boy has more friends than your 2 year old and, hence, your boy is stupid.” Just wait for it to grow, right?

    Also, me and some of my friends have seen (and that was just recent) MAJOR national reporters and media outlets hypocrisy when they were painting G+ black religiously for a year and are now quietly joining it and using G+ hangouts for reporting their news.

    What brands are doing it right?
    The ones that are on it, with or without community engagement.

    Some brands that are doing well:
    Cadbury UK
    TIME
    NASA
    BMW
    There are millions more.
    Here’re handpicked brands from Mashable: http://mashable.com/2012/06/28/google-plus-brands/

    You can always find something for your passions:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ao1OX3UN25EvdHRWR3lwWXQ0a0RhWnFuWml5RnJHdkE&hl=en_US#gid=0

  • http://keithbloemendaal.me/ Keith Bloemendaal

    @facebook-100002208082276:disqus are you neglecting the sheer SEO benefits of a strong Google Plus presence? It has been tested many times, and more reports are coming out showing it (Check out Search Engine Journal’s post today, 9/18) and read closely the part about Google Plus.

    You may look at it as “yelling down empty aisles”, but if your competitors are smart, they won’t and will benefit greatly from the SEO they will receive. Period.

  • http://www.maxminzer.com/ Max Minzer

    Keith,
    Not neglecting SEO benefits at all – it’s plain silly to ignore them and authorship with the “social” direction of search.The reason I don’t mention these benefits is because that’s the only reason marketers think they should be on Google+ and it’s not true at all.Many people say things like “I’m on Google+ only because it’s important for SEO” and then tell everyone else that it’s not worth joining G+ environment.So, I just avoid this argument.
    Overall, it was when I stopped doubting G+ – that’s when my engagement on it and enjoyment of G+ started.

  • Matt McGee

    Max, I don’t think the “other networks are much older” argument holds much weight. Those other networks started from nothing – no user base, no awareness, no marketing, nothing. Google+ started with the muscle of one of the world’s biggest, most well known, and most successful companies on earth behind it — a company that has an enormous built-in user base and is taking advantage of that user base by spreading Google+ over all its properties and forcing users into creating G+ accounts. They can’t get away with the “we’re only a year old” thing at this point. It’s apples and oranges. No other social network/service began with the built-in advantages that G+ did.

  • http://www.maxminzer.com/ Max Minzer

    Ok, Matt. Should we, therefore, expect instant results? I think results after 1 year are very realistic.
    Also, no one “forced” anyone to create a G+ account. One had all the tools at his fingertips to not connect, say, YouTube and G+ and other “properties” in the past. So, let’s be more specific here. Creating a fresh account is different but privacy policy changed as well. You’re free to choose if you want to use Google bundle of products or not. And you still have a lot of control over settings.

  • Matt McGee

    I don’t know of anyone that thinks G+ is another Facebook, Max. That’s exactly my point — it’s not. It doesn’t have the usage, engagement, etc. There are some communities where small niches of people are having a great time on G+ and that’s cool — Marketing/Tech being one of those communities. So, yeah, if you’re active there, you can easily find peers to meet and chat with, etc. But the masses of online users are not adopting Google+ at this point. That’s all I’m saying. Well, that and I’m saying that you can’t say “Google+ is new” as an excuse for the lack of general adoption. :-)

  • http://www.maxminzer.com/ Max Minzer

    Just clarification (and I’m done here):
    When I said “people think that G+ is another Facebook” I wasn’t talking about numbers (G+ numbers are fine) – I meant “network that is very similar to Facebook”. And it’s not similar at all. Just like Twitter and Facebook are different platforms.

    I’m referring to this: http://mashable.com/2012/06/29/google-plus-problem/
    and they could do a better job educating people about this “vision” for G+ right from the start.

    As for niches – it’s not just SEO/Tech/Marketing. I commented earlier above about other niches that prosper on G+. I especially like (because of my past) how science is doing there – astronomy, physics, medical fields,… Very intelligent conversations there.

  • http://keithbloemendaal.me/ Keith Bloemendaal

    I meant to reply to @facebook-100002208082276:disqus with that one Max :-)

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