Mashable’s article ‘Is Google + the number 3 social network’ demonstrates why reliance on free and top line data can be an extremely misleading for strategy development. In response to this article, our latest GWI.7 reveals some interesting information to help provide a clearer picture:

Clarity: UK GWI.7 Preview

We are providing a sneak preview of results from the UK segment of the research which we have used to validate survey functionality. This table below is the current picture (from the field this week), using a smaller sample size (221) than the final UK sample (2000). This small preview gives a good indication of trends, but means at this stage there are zeros in certain age groups. We predict that the final picture will be very similar.

Publisher data cannot be relied on:

  • The continuing smoke and mirrors around Google+’s “official” take up and numbers, ranging from 100m to 170m in the course of the last month show why publisher derived numbers should not be used as a basis as they fluctuate too much for any strategic decision making.
  • All publishers hype their active user figures and, as we know from the Facebook and Linkedin IPO filings, active usage is an estimate and can be based on very low levels of engagement.

Referencing numbers without source or methodology means the data could be coming from anywhere:

  • In particular, noting that Twitter has 500m is hugely misleading. This number is an estimate from a service called Twopcharts and is so far from credible it’s not worthy of printing. While it attracts coverage and hype, it’s a dangerous piece of misinformation. Our GWI.6 numbers put it at 72m and Twitter themselves only claim 140m
  • More importantly, this is an estimate of the total number of accounts ever registered. This is not the same as “users” or “active users”. When creating strategy, these are the numbers you should use.
  • In the same paragraph, they reference LinkedIn with 150m members, but with no explanation. Again this is a completely different number to active usage and our latest numbers from GWI.6 put the active userbase at 87m.

Mixing up methodologies does not allow for comparison:

  • The Comscore figures quoted are for visits to the URL from their panel of home PC users. This is not the same as people creating accounts and as we know, mobile and work adoption is huge, so the number of active users is larger. Google+ is not a destination service, like Facebook, instead it is more of a social layer users can interact with across the web and Google services – the different use means different interaction and lower levels as seen in our latest preview data.

Mixing global data and US only:

  • The US picture no longer reflects what is happening elsewhere in the world. Consumer uptake of social services is far higher in fast growing internet markets and the US can no longer be used as a guide of global adoption
  • The story is forgetting Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo, which are both bigger in scale, on Chinese adoption alone

Most crucially, these very top-line numbers provide no indication of whether your target audience is engaging. Targeted / segmented research will create a more rigorous base to start a plan from. Our previous blog post is a good one to read for understanding why targeted / segmented data is key.

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