How Many People Use Google Plus?

There is a small storm in a teacup about how many people use G+. Google says 170 mil have "upgraded to G+." Ok. Facebook says it has 800 mil "active." So is Active = Upgraded? Is active number logging into FB every 30 days? What about a trillion who have Twitter accounts?

It is hard to make sense of all this. And since each company, FB, TW, G, is executing a very unique strategy for Social awesomeness, it makes apples to apples numbers every harder to get.

So switch to comparing rotten apples to rotten apples. :)

The attached image is from Compete. It is a competitive intelligence data provider that uses a combination of panels, asp data, isp data etc for a subset of US internet users (a couple ten million or so). It users that observed data, applies "mathematical algorithms," and presents a "here to our best of our ability is what is happening."

Since Compete is not taking data from FB or G+ or TW I call this comparing rotten apples to rotten apples.

So what does it say?

The way I look at Competitive Intel sources is to compare trends and not absolute numbers (remember the rotten parts?). In the six months it has been alive G+ has been doing very well. The trend also shows that Facebook is doing just fine. :) Over time watching these trends gives you one limited interesting view of things.

The raw numbers for 2/2012 are: Unique Visitors:
facebook.com=166,890,779
twitter.com=37,201,228
plus.google.com=18,915,810

Remember US only, observed data by a third party, for mostly desktop usage, using their own algorithms, trying to provide numbers for three companies that are executing a completely different social strategy.

So what have we learned today?

If you want to get rough trends for mostly desktop usage of each domain for unique visitors then it is not that hard.

If you were seeking something sensational that would bring into dramatic conclusion your quest to finally nail Facebook or Google or Twitter... well that is not easy.

And it is not because numbers are useful, but in the end it is the analysis of each company's unique social strategy, and it's success over time, will give you that. But most people in the world are not that patient, and that is sub-awesome.

Update: PS: If you want to learn more about competitive intelligence, how these tools collect data and how you could interpret them please see my post on that: http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/competitive-intelligence-data-sources-best-practices/

#businessanalysis #rottenapplestorottenapples #challenges
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