SocMetrics Questions Google+’s Mainstream Reach

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A few days ago, traffic analysis firm Experian Hitwise shared the results of a study of over 10 million online users, and concluded from its findings that Google’s new social network, Google+, was headed into mainstream territory.

While not entirely disputing that data, social media monitoring firm SocMetrics, comes to a slightly different conclusion today by examining one particular vertical: moms. Says SocMetrics, the group containing the “moms” influencers is a key segment for Google+ to focus on growing, especially considering that one of the social network’s key differentiators is the ability to post privately or semi-privately via its user-created “Circles” (friend lists).

But the moms group is “substantially less engaged” on Google+ than others, SocMetrics found.

Unlike Hitwise, SocMetrics doesn’t look at visitors to websites –  it analyzes social media mentions. This includes mentions on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube as well as Digg, Reddit and Disqus. In this case, the firm tracked conversations (1 million per day) from July 20th to August 10th, and further broke that down by vertical (industry or group). Generally, there were a few thousand conversations per day about Google+ or Facebook.

Moms Show Up on “Influencers” List

In the chart below, SocMetrics shows that it’s primarily industry types (e.g. tech, marketing, security, developers, etc.) who are talking about Google+. Other more mainstream verticals, like sports, celebrity and fashion, are under-represented on Google+ when using this method for analysis. In fact, out of the top 25 segments talking about Google+, the network has only one which could be considered “mainstream” – the moms.

Still, this group is far more active on both Facebook and Twitter than on Google+, which sees 30% to 50% less engagement based on these conversations.

There are a couple of ways you can interpret this data – either you believe it clearly shows Google+’s struggle to cross over into mainstream groups, or you may think the fact moms even make the list of engaged verticals shows promise for the social networking site.

As far as SocMetrics is concerned, the firm feels its data shows fairly similar curves to Hitwise’s earlier findings. There, Hitwise looked at selected segments called “colleges and cafes,” “kids and cabernet,” “status seeking singles,” and “full pockets empty nests.” (Yes, those are apparently segments.) Regardless of those oddly named groupings, Hitwise’s data shows a general flattening trend in terms of growth (see below).

SocMetrics says none of this means that Google+ won’t eventually reach the mainstream, but right now it’s not on track to do so. Google needs to move quickly to capitalize on the window of opportunity it has with mainstream groups such as moms, the firm concludes, before their attention wanes even further.

Considering Google’s most recent hire, however, it looks like the company is indeed aware of its challenges with Google+ and is rapidly moving to address them.