Yesterday, Google CEO Larry Page dropped some big Google+ numbers during his opening remarks for Google’s earnings call. The biggest one sounded like Google+’s 10 million users were already sharing 1 billion items per day. That sounds insane for a network that is only a couple of weeks old and isn’t yet fully public. But it’s also a bit confusing. What exactly does that mean? And how do we put that into context?
Today, exactly 5 years to the day since they launched, Twitter adds the context. Google+ may be serving up 1 billion items a day, but Twitter is doing 350 billion items a day.
When I say these numbers are a bit confusing, it’s because they’re not “share” numbers in that you think one person sharing something is one share. Instead, as I understand it, what these numbers mean is that when one person shares something, Google and Twitter have to deliver it to X number of timelines (X being the number of people that follow that account). This has long been an engineering challenge for Twitter, and Google is clearly seeing the same thing since they use a similar “follow” model (with Circles — though it’s a bit different since there is such an emphasis on private Circles).
So 1 billion and 350 billion is actually the number of G+ shares and Tweets that Google and Twitter have to serve up, respectively, to fully cover their graphs completely each day. Mind. Blown.
Meanwhile, that other social network said a couple weeks ago that users were sharing 4 billion things a day. That just adds more confusion to the mix, as clearly Facebook, with 750 million users, should have the bigger number of all, right? As far as I can tell, that number is actually the number of items individual users are sharing on Facebook (not just the range of their delivery), but it includes hitting the Like button, etc. So it all depends on what your definition of “share” is.
While Twitter technically turned 5 last March (when the first Tweets were sent), it was 5 years ago today that Twitter officially launched to the public. It’s also the day that we first covered them, when they were still known as Twttr. Twitter is celebrating by releasing other big numbers as well.
Delivering 350 billion Tweets a day is a terribly fun engineering challenge. But, it doesn't capture how passionate our users are.—
Twitter Engineering (@TwitterEng) July 15, 2011