So the question is… is Google+ the new Facebook?
There may be many ways to answer that question… one of them should be in terms of statistics on sharing in the social context and category, the answer would be appear to be “no, not yet.” But Google+ is growing fast and even re-organizing how they page rank based on social footprints and whatnot.
If you are still wondering why Google is pushing so hard with its new product Buzz, it is because it wants in on the social traffic scene, not just search traffic. For many sites on the Web, social traffic coming through Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace is beginning to rival, and in some cases overtake, search traffic as the single biggest source of traffic. This traffic comes from shared links, photos, and videos that have been shared on these social networks. By its own numbers, 5 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook every week.
What isn’t easily appreciated is the extent to which such social sharing is tied to different identity and authentication platforms across the Web. If you can log into a site easily using your Facebook or Twitter account, it is easier to broadcast links from that site to your friends.
To get a sense of which services on the Web drive the most sharing, I asked Gigya for some stats. Gigya powers sharing widgets on more than 5,000 content sites, including ABC.com. NBA.com, PGA.com, Answers.com, and Reuters but small businesses and professionals can look elsewhere… Gigya wants something in the $20k range just to get going using their products but plenty of social sharing widgets and plugins about for free or for very small amounts (ie. under $100).
Consumers can click a share button on these enabled sites and send an article link, photo, or video via a menu of different services including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Yahoo Mail, Gmail, and AOL. Over the past 30 days, people have shared almost a million items over the Gigya network alone. Facebook and Twitter dominate with about three quarters of all shared items between them. Here is how the services break down (note that these are relative numbers):
Distribution of shared items via social networks
It makes sense, people prefer to broadcast links rather than share them one at a time via email, even compared to a broadcast email to a larger group of friends, colleagues, etc. Although Yahoo makes a strong third-place showing, when it comes to authentication, simply using your existing username and password to log into another site, Facebook is still the most popular via Facebook Connect, but only just barely. Google via Gmail and Yahoo are almost equally popular, at least on certain types of sites where people are just reading for themselves like news sites. On entertainment sites where people are more likely to share content, Facebook Connect makes up the majority of logins.
So Facebook and Twitter are still #1 and #2 in the world of social sharing, at least it would appear that way and it seems quite logical and plausible that this would be the case. But make no mistake, Google+ is coming and if the latest report from Paul Allen, founder of Ancestry.com and independent Google+ statist, are accurate, then the Google+ user-base now stands at 18 million and counting. Facebook on the other hand claims to have 750 million active users or about 732 million if the 18 million users mentioned migrated to Google+.
In recent polls conducted by The Christian Post, more than 40 percent of 10,000 people stated that they believe Google+ would dethrone Facebook as the biggest social network while the other 40 percent believed that Google+ and Facebook would co-exist.
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