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.