Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Measuring Google+ Activity

In July, I undertook a casual survey of web pages which included sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. In nearly all of my sampled pages, the counter on the Google+ button was in last place, often by a wide margin. This didn’t jive with the claims from some analytics firms that Google+ was the second most popular social network.

In that article, I derived from the sharing data that people weren’t using Google+ in the same way that they would use their Facebook profile. The lack of activity on Google+ suggested that it was not the second most popular social network around. What I didn’t know was how Google measured activity on Google+.

Amir Efrati over at Jessica Lessin’s new project1 has a well-placed source:

In the past, statistics about active users in the stream included anytime a person clicked on the red Google+ notifications in the top right corner of their screen while they were using Web search, Gmail, or other Google Web services. The person didn’t actually have to visit plus.google.com to be counted as “active.”

Google doesn’t want you to think of G+ as a Facebook competitor, though:

During [the May 15] Google I/O developer’s conference keynote address, Google+ played a big part in many of the more exciting product announcements, even though it wasn’t always called out. The redesigned version of Google Maps will recommend restaurants based on what your Google+ friends have reviewed and visited. The new Google Music All Access service will also use your social graph to hone in on music you might enjoy.

“That unification of Google, of bringing Google together, makes for amazing things,” said [Vic] Gundotra.

If that’s the case, though, why does the Facebook-ish component of Google+ exist?


  1. Lessin and Efrati both left the Wall Street Journal; Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher are severing ties with the Journal at the end of the year. I wonder if they’re going to build something together. ↩︎