Paul Allen, that guy from Ancestry.com with the Google+ user base estimating algorithm that has proven freakishly accurate in past months, believes the social network grew 30 percent between September 20 and 22. During this time, Google+ left their field trial and entered open beta, inviting everyone to join with a giant blue arrow on their home page.
In a post on Google+, Allen announced his latest user count estimates:
- On September 9, Google+ had 28.7 million users.
- By September 22, this had risen to 37.8 million, with most of the growth in the previous two days.
- Allen adds a “fudge factor” to account for private profiles and non-Roman surnames and finalizes his estimation at 43.4 million Google+ users.
The first day Google+ opened to the public saw 3.58 million visits from the U.S., according to Experian Hitwise. While it’s a huge increase from their previous daily high of 321,000 U.S. Web visits, Facebook had 72 times more visits that day.
Google+ has a long way to go, but the next few weeks could be telling, as users decide to either adapt to Facebook’s changes or jump ship. More and more, Google+ is looking like a viable competitor.
As the two continue adding similar features on-site and try to collect the best/most datafor advertisers, privacy concerns and user interface may become the deciding factors for users. The new Open Graph apps are already causing a stir, as reports circulate about Facebook’s ability to track user activity across the Web even when users are logged out.
Those rushing to Google+, though, may be equally as creeped out when they realize this social network was launched as an identity service.
Andrew Tomkins, formerly of Yahoo, is the leader of the Plus research team, ReadWriteWeb reported last week from the Strata Summit on Big Data. This is the same Tomkins who revealed at the SES New York 2008 conference that user behavior was becoming far more valuable than such signals as anchor text.
It is the job of Tomkins and his research team to understand how people use Google+ by poring through huge amounts of user data. Some of their early findings, as reported by ReadWriteWeb:
- Google+ users are two to three times as likely to post content to private circles than they are to post it publicly.
- The new Search functionality will in the future identify topic experts, based on algorithmic analysis of the things they discuss and other signals.
- Automatic prioritization of social contacts: "We have great data to determine who you really care about. The phone contacts list is key. The data belongs to the users though and we need to find the best way to serve it up to them." (quote is from Bradley Horowitz, Google VP of Product Management)
“Horowitz and [Tim] O'Reilly talked dreamily about a sensor-rich future where almost unimaginable technologies were built on tidal waves of data. ‘Imagine we all opted-in and donated our microphone sensors in this room to capture an aggregate of data… There will be sensors like dust everywhere and it will be [technologists' job] to harvest that data and return it as killer apps,'" ReadWriteWeb reported.
Both Google and Facebook seem willing to push users’ boundaries as far as they can get away with in order to be the social network driving advertising dollars. How this will play out for marketers seems, at this time, to depend largely on which service can keep users after all of the dust settles.
Facebook has the advantage in membership now, but many users aren’t happy. Is it enough to make them switch? Leave your thoughts in a comment.