A Truly Awful Google+ Hatchet Job on Forbes Exposed
As some of you know, I've made it my policy for some time now not to waste time responding to the "Google+ is dead" articles that sprout up from time to time like weeds on a spring lawn.
But the recent rash have been so bad, so poorly researched and argued, that I had to end my silence.
My next +Marketing Land
column (which should publish next week, I think) deals with the main arguments in recent articles by +Larry Kim
and +Travis Wright
But in this post I'm commenting on a new Forbes post by Steve Denning titled "Five Reasons Why Google+ Died." In a response today +Mike Elgan
dealt very well with a number of Denning's reasons, including a very bad misunderstanding of a quote by Elgan that Denning doesn't even correctly attribute. You can read Elgan's post at http://goo.gl/FH6DJ5
I want to address a statistic quoted in the introduction of Denning's article. He quotes +Scott Galloway
as stating that Google+ had a "97% decline in engagement rate, year over year." (The actual figure is 98%, as you'll see later, but that's the most inconsequential of Denning's errors.)
That's a pretty stunning claim. I wanted to see the actual study, where its data came from and its methodology. No context was given around the number.
In response to my comment on the Forbes article asking for that information, Denning referred me to a previous article of his, which linked to another article. That article had an embedded video of a talk by Galloway, in which he states the 98% drop in engagement as evidence that Google+ has failed, showing for a few seconds a bar chart with that stat.
But still no link to or citation of, in the article or video, whatever study this data came from.
It took me almost an hour to track down the original study from which the "98% drop in engagement" comes, but eventually I found it.
It's at https://www.l2inc.com/research/social-platforms-2014
. Turns out that L2 is Scott Galloway's own research company.
The full report is for "members only." I entered my email address to get the download of the non-members version. It turns out to be only an excerpt, and does not contain the methodology or any details on how the data was obtained.
As far as I can discern, L2 looked at the social profiles of about 300 brands. So first off, this is only a study of brand profiles on social media
.The study does not
look at regular users at all. Which means to use it as a source to proclaim overall engagement is fallacious.
When I dig down further in the excerpt, I saw that there was a lot more to the story.
Yes, of the 300 some brands they surveyed, Facebook is killing it. But if you look at the rest of the story, Google+ is doing at least as well as, and sometimes better than., the other secondary social networks.
The ballyhooed "98% drop in engagement rate" (engagements per follower) occurred, according to the study, from July 2013 to July 2014. While that drop is the worst among the networks surveyed, all
of the networks had drops including Facebook, which dropped 13%.
If you look at the other stats, you get a broader story.
In the time period studied (again, July 2013 to July 2014), the surveyed brands increased followers on Google+ by 41% (compared to an increase for Facebook of 38%). Moreover, the absolute number of followers for Google+ was the highest of any network (960K, compared to FB's 781K).
Also, brand engagement per post went up 67% on Google+, while only 26% on Facebook.
So you see, you can prove whatever you want, it just depends on which stat you choose.
And in this case, those numbers only apply to a very small sample of brand pages, not to all users of the networks, as the Forbes writer assumed.
These days I always want to add to these posts that I come neither to praise Google+ nor to bury it (sorry, Shakespeare!). I'm not going after this as a G+ fanboy, but simply because I hate misinformation.UPDATE:
With permission, I am adding on here an excellent comment left on the Forbes article by +David Amerland
that very deftly deals with the five main "reasons" denning gave for why Google+ is dead. The following is David's complete comment:
Interesting points. Let’s take them in reverse: #5 – G+ is not a social network in the traditional sense of the word. It is a “social layer” (Google execs have specifically said this on a number of occasions) or more exact a set of tools used to socialize the web. There are a lot of new things within that: from HOAs (Hangouts On Air) to an ability to connect a real-world-business to a Google Map presence to a page, to real people profiles, to name but two.
#4 – From the outset Google said that G+ was not like Facebook and was never intended to be. No idea why this idea is perpetuated but obviously the words “social network” applied as a label mean the exact same thing to all people (sigh).
#3 – If by “customers” you mean those who use Google’s services and products in both their free and paid-for formats, then you’d be hard pressed to find a more end-user orientated company. Case in point any G+ users owns the data they upload (all of it). If you want to, you can download it and close your profile and walk away. Last time I checked Facebook retained the rights to everything you posted even after you closed your profile and it has taken court orders to stop them from using deleted profiles’ data.
#2 – I have no idea how you can think a structured search index is not a library (guess there are no books you can see there). Semantic search is very much like that and Google’s Knowledge Vault goes even beyond it. Search is useless without an index, an index is a cataloguing of information in a highly cross-referenced way. This point, quite frankly is ridiculous.
#1 – I agree with the extrinsinc/intrinsic rewards principle. There are many Google employees who do not use G+ themselves and it has caused issues internally in the company.
You could have got rid of all the other points and led with that and you would have got yourself an article that actually added some real value to the online conversation, but for that to happen you would have to have some awareness of the G+ platform itself (i.e. use it occasionally).