Google+ loses to Facebook

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Reuters/Norbert von der Groeben

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Reuters/Norbert von der Groeben

William Wolfe-Wylie, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:31 PM ET

This was the year Google launched itself into the social space and aggregated all of its diverse services around a single beacon at the same time. Google+ - part blogging platform, part social network and part identity key for the rest of the Internet - was the new social tool was the focus of much of 2011's social media talk.

But what started out with promise - attracting tens of millions of sign-ups in the first weeks - quickly languished as people tried to figure out what Google+ is good for and why they should turn to it instead of Facebook.

Internet marketing firms were quick to point out that Facebook generates more than 1,000 times as many referrals to exterior web sites than Google+.

Traffic analysts pointed out that Google+ membership seemed to restrict itself to young, well-off, American men.

And by the end of the year, overall page views on Google+ seemed to be on the decline since a September peak.

In sheer numbers, most estimates place Google's active user base between 10 and 30 million (Google is tight-lipped about it), while Twitter's soared past 100 million active accounts and Facebook rocketed to new records, past 800 million.

So why are people still talking about? The fictionalized Sean Parker in last year's The Social Network sums it up: "You don't even know what the thing is yet."

Some, like Dell Computers CEO Michael Dell, are using it as a customer service panel, by hosting video chats with random visitors. Others, such as Embassy Magazine's Carl Meyer, are using it to break news and post commentary. The Welland Tribune's Dave Johnson uses it to showcase his photography.

Both Facebook and Twitter, after all, languished in relative obscurity before audiences figured out their purpose and the mainstream web users went along.

But now those two giants are consuming more and more of our lives. Social media accounted for nearly a quarter of the time we spent online in 2011, and Facebook reached 70% of active Internet users.

Meanwhile, one in every 600 page views across the entire Internet originated with a Facebook share.

Social media was your outlet of choice for finding out that Osama bin Laden had been killed, that Mubarek has resigned in Egypt, that Charlie Sheen was likely insane and that a tsunami had devastated Japan.

Canadians even hosted our first social media election, where our electoral laws prevented results from being broadcast on national news channels, but #TweetTheResults made sure we all knew them anyway.

Like it or not, 2011 connected us that much more in an already highly connected world.

 


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