Will Google+ Replace Facebook as the King of Social Media? [Plus Infographic]

Nothing is forever and the rise of Google plus begs the question “When will Facebook be dethroned?

MySpace lasted 5 years as the king of social networks until 2007 after launching in 2002. Smart business heads such as Rupert Murdoch paid over a half a billion dollars for direct ownership, betting on the the future continuing success of MySpace and its longevity.

Will Google Plus Replace Facebook as the King of Social Networks Plus Infographic

We now know that that business decision ended in tears, with MySpace being sold in 2011 for less than $40 million, as its user base continued to decline.

Facebook is not taking the private sale route but is going public this year with a market valuation estimated at $100 billion.

Google had attempted in the past to create a social media network as it knew that social networks were the future.

It launched Google “Buzz” and Google “Wave”, both of which were dismal failures.

In 2010, Google decided to get serious and invested over $500 million and incentivised management to achieve measureable social media success and its third attempt “Google plus” was launched  in 2011, into the crowded social media network market with no guarantees of success but knew that it had to do something to compete with the stickiness of Facebook.

Stickiness is a term that is used to describe the amount of time users spend on a platform engaged and using its features and functions.

Time Spent on Facebook

The numbers from Nielsen regarding time spent on Facebook compared to Google and other web properties are worth considering and reveal why Google had to launch Google+.

In May, 2011 Americans spent

  • 53.5 billion minutes on Facebook
  • 17.2 billion minutes on Yahoo
  • 12.5 billion minutes on Google

In fact Facebook beats Google, YouTube, Yahoo and AOL combined, based on time spent on the platform!

Has Google Plus been a Success?

Paul Allen (who calls himself the unofficial statistician of Google+, as Google is very coy about its numbers) has estimated the following growth path of Google+ very accurately since its launch.

  • July 13 – 10 million
  • August 1 – 20.5 million
  • October 1 – (Paul Allen estimates were a conservative 38 million) but Google’s Larry Page revealed that it was in fact over 40 million
  • December 1 – 50 million
  • December 27 – 62 million

He estimates that Google plus is adding 625,000 users a day and estimates that it will reach 400 million users by the end of 2012.

Is Google + a Hit Because of the Visual Web?

When Google built the Google plus social network it was obvious from the start that they had allowed for the increasingly visual evolution of the internet and social networks.

They have continued this focus by providing instant upload from the Google mobile android operating system that has 700,000 new activations every day.

An observation by Paul is also worth noting about the highly engaging power of photos for users and the Google+ users activity.

One of the most exciting numbers I am tracking is around photos. Google+ users upload 5x more photos per day than Facebook users (perhaps because of Android instant upload). Google+ will be hosting about 10 billion photos by mid-January“.

You only have to look at the growth of Pinterest and also the much more visual focus of the new Facebook “Timeline” to realise the increasing  power of images and photography to engage people  on social networks.

Google+ and Facebook to Become a Social Network Duopoly?

It is hard to see that Google plus will surpass Facebook in the foreseeable future. But it is possible that with Google’s web and mobile properties of Google mail, YouTube, Blogger and the Android mobile operating system (plus other online assets) providing a ready user base of over 1.2 billion that it could rival Facebook.

This competing duopoly would provide a competitive environment that would lead to a continually evolving and healthy social media network ecosystem.

Maybe 2015 will see Facebook matched by Google+ as it does look likely it will pass LinkedIn as the second  largest social network this year.

Competition is always a positive environment that brings out the best!

What Happened in Social Media in 2011?

What Happened in Social Media in 2011 Infographic

Source: ColumnFiveMedia

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Image by clasesdeperiodismo


  • http://sitemaster.com.au Frank Warwick

    I am a big G+ fan … but

    I feel that G+ and FB have different uses and different audiences. Personal interaction; Facebook is for friends and family, ie, ‘we did this’, ‘Had a great time with you guys today’ and that sort of thing where Google Plus is for the mind, ie, I am interested in ….. and I can interact with people of similar interests.Business;With the business side, Facebook has it down and their API lets you pull in your content to allow you to on sell.  
    With Google Plus, the business pages are basic and they have a lot to catch up to (at the time of writing) what Facebook has done.

    • http://brittinspired.com Brittany Rubinstein

      I strongly agree Frank. I’m not using G+ right now, but I use it mostly for networking and promoting my blog. Much like the way I use Twitter. The interaction I see on there is more discussion based. More related to specific industries and interests. More intelligent conversation, if you will. Facebook is the more traditional definition of social. What I did last name, pictures from my vacation, invitations to parties, getting in touch with old friends. I don’t think G+ will replace Facebook. It’s too little too late. But I think it will become successful in it’s own way. 

  • http://twitter.com/sbhsbh Steve Hughes

    I never know one of these 625K that supposedly sign up everyday…I would love to know how many FB Users don’t have another major SoMe account (Twitter, LinkedIn, G+).  This population is not moving to G+.  The people that have joined G+ are at least a step above the casual social media user.  There aren’t 800 Million of them out there, and I’d even question the 62 Million that Paul Allen estimates, seems a bit aggressive.  400 Million by the end of 2012 (an additional 338 Million), seems laughable.  I’ll take the Under.  Unless FB decides to close its doors G+ isn’t passing.

    • http://twitter.com/SteveS1 Steve Schildwachter

      I agree, Steve, with a qualification.  The “agree” part is that the mass numbers of SoMe are regular people who use it to keep up with friends and family.  Almost everyone who uses any SoMe is using Facebook.  Those of us on Twitter are still kind of unique, i.e., a minority in that we don’t add up to mass numbers.

      The “qualification” part is that in Social Media, it’s not ubiquity that matters, it’s authenticity.  Tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of FB users don’t use it regularly.  Just because they’re signed up doesn’t mean they’re active in the community.  The same may apply to Twitter or even LinkedIn but I use those because I can connect with people, not because they can claim a billion users.

      I’m throwing around a lot of big numbers, but they don’t matter.  I share your skepticism about Google+, but will judge it by the quality of interactions vs. the number of users compared to Facebook.

    • http://www.webstatsart.com/ Webstats Art

      Hey Steve, As far as I know I have not met a single person in the whole world who is using G+ or even thinking about using it but almost all of them love facebook. I wonder if the statistics we read on the web about G+ have been tampered with and simply an inflated report.

  • http://twitter.com/Will_OpenDoorSM Will Berend

    The most important stat that is missing is how many users are still coming back. That stat will prove Google+ is not a hit. The majority of Facebook users I would consider general users. This to me means people that don’t really care that much about social media but are on Facebook to keep up with friends and family. These people will not switch over to Google + unless something drastic happens to Facebook which will keep Google+ from being highly successful.

    However, I do believe if G+ focuses on the B2B side of things in social media they could be the #1 network for professionals and easily replace LinkedIn. If there goal continues to be to over take Facebook they will fail.

    • http://www.webstatsart.com/ Webstats Art

      Yeh. looks like LinkedIn will suffer the most. Goodbye LinkedIn. Maybe Twitter too when they come out with the timeline update and as for B2B – they are paranoid about G+ since Panda update so they won’t dive in just yet. I am not a facebook user but G+ has made me think about facebook and now I will start using it.

    • Rui

      I think Linkedin is more than safe. G+ is indeed good for business but it’s still a purely social platform, designed for individuals. Linkedin has carved itself a niche that is going to be more and more difficult to break as time goes on or something drastic, as you said, happens. The truth is that Linkedin has got online recruitment locked down. It is the single biggest thing to have happened to the recruitment industry since the internet and now its established as that, I’m gonna find that a hard cycle to break.

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Jeff,

    I use Plus moderately and note my interactions increasing each day. The orange number box continues to skyrocket, and if this is the case when I am not on it all day, I feel that G Plus is growing, and growing fast.

    Thanks for sharing your insight.


  • http://andynathan.net Andy Nathan

    It is amazing to think that by the end of the year G+ will have close to 400 million subscribers. I am sure it is possible, it just seems improbable with some of the lack of interest being shown currently by the public over the site.

    • http://osakabentures.com/english-2/saulfleischman/ Saul Fleischman

      Ah, but does G+ do that much more for us than otrher networks? How much time do you spend on it daily? I come and go, myself – unless I have a Hangout to do.

  • Rick Allen

    I’m going to date myself here, but the title of this article reminds me of a headline on the cover of my cousin’s teen magazine when I was just coming of age. It read, “Will Ricky take over as King?” or something close to that. Now, I was an avid fan of both Elvis, and Ricky Nelson, but I recall at the time feeling, “NO WAY!” In my young mind, they both occupied a place of veneration, but they each had their place, and the idea that Ricky would supplant Elvis was just not thinkable.

    Reflecting back, the facts would likely show that such a competition existed only in the mind of the writer, and it succeeded in selling lots of magazines to anxious teens.

    I don’t doubt a bit that there is far greater likelihood of real honest competition in the case if Facebook vs. Google+, but it still seems to me like asking if the Skill Power Saw will take over, leaving the SawzAll in the dust.

    I think Google has the most to gain, not by head to head competition in the same space, but in capitalizing on it’s existing strengths, and integrating processes and social networking into search, gmail, etc.

    I don’t see Facebook trying, yet anyway, to become the next great search engine or email tool, messaging notwithstanding. Someone published statistics some time back about how more searches were performed on Facebook at a point in time than on Google, but no one addressed the fact that on Facebook they were searching for old classmates and new girlfriends, and searching for EVERYTHING ELSE on Google.

    Google+ has not yet impressed me that it has nudged seriously into Facebook space. I think 62M serious networking are trying to figure it out, and most are as lost and confused by Google+ as I am. Like a caveman finding a modern tool or weapon, it’s shinny, it MUST do something important, but GRUNT if I know what.

  • http://twitter.com/awsoem Lousie
    • Tjeerd

      I’ve read the article but I do not agree at all.
      I too can add up some Google+ features and compare them with Facebook features. But a comparison between functionality can never ever been a factor in saying that Google+ will outrule Facebook.
      You’re stating that Google+ isn’t a failure because it’s a better platform. That may be so, but then why are all of my friends still on Facebook?

    • Tjeerd

      I’ve read the article but I do not agree at all.
      I too can add up some Google+ features and compare them with Facebook features. But a comparison between functionality can never ever been a factor in saying that Google+ will outrule Facebook.
      You’re stating that Google+ isn’t a failure because it’s a better platform. That may be so, but then why are all of my friends still on Facebook?

  • Beazboy

    Lol. I read an article yesterday saying google made the biggest mistsake ever with google plus and their search results. Now thisis suggesting its better than face book. Got to love the media. Check it out. Biz insider the srticle was I think. Martin beazer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dmitriy-Kuznetsov/100002336477711 Dmitriy Kuznetsov

    explained. Thanks !!!



  • http://twitter.com/EdBuziak Ed Buziak

    I joined G+ for three months and gained close to 5,000 followers… but narrowed down those I followed to around 60 individuals. I’ve been a working photographer for 40+ years and have a visually critical eye and way of thinking… so after three months I closed my G+ account because of the amount of dross being uploaded. Another reason was that whilst I was spending a couple of hours a day on there writing fairly lengthy extended captions to my images, and appraisals for others… most comments I received were one of the two words I got to loathe the most for being undescriptive and unthoughtful… “awesome” and “cute”. I automatically de-friended everyone who used those words to comment on my work. Recently I have rejoined FB… kept my circle small (but slowly expanding)… and share life and news in a more meaningful way with equally open family and friends.

  • http://blog.zimpel.de/ Stefanie Weyrauch

    I agree. Crap like Farmville is really annoying in FB.
    But I habe the problem that most of my family and friends are still only on FB and don´t see a reason why to change to Google+. So I can´t communicate on Google+ with them and have to stick with FB.

    • http://twitter.com/JTDabbagian James Dabbagian

      That will change eventually. Give it time. 

  • http://andynathan.net Andy Nathan

     Aaron, until it gets away from the tech person status it will have trouble having real growth and user interaction.

  • http://sprichie.com/ Scott Sprich

    Hi Jeff.  Great article.  I’m in the belief that Google Plus is dead.  At best, it’s a huge disappointment.  Many of us have gone, but then go right back to facebook.  If we can’t get our friends to join us then we don’t want to be at that party.  I found you through a search after I wrote a post on my site about Google Plus being dead.  I illustrated how on one of my articles I had 599 likes on facebook to 2 shares on Google Plus.  What other proof is needed that something is not right there.  I’ll attach the screenshot so you can see.  I didn’t realize that lack of impact Google Plus was having until I could see it for myself.