Posts Tagged ‘ Google

Google Attempting to Unify Google+ and YouTube Accounts

Interesting. Google is now pushing for having people use the same name on their Google+ and on YouTube (and probably across all Google services). This would mean having your real name on YouTube. Yeah… how about no?

To expand on my decision:

1. There are simply some services that you don’t want to display your real name on. YouTube is one of them because you can potentially have an account for posting things like streamcasts and the like where you are well known based on your online handle and not your real name.

2. I already get annoyed by now the default display for YouTube is not Uploads Only. I can only imagine what would happen once Google starts integrating all their services and I suddenly get YouTube videos posted by friends showing up in on my YouTube page.

3. Or vice versa, in my Google+ page. I complained almost instantly about the lack of grouping/filtering for your stream in Google+ which got fixed like a year later (way too late, you failed Google; this is one reason why everyone just stuck with Facebook). If they do start merging services and updates, let’s just say that I don’t think they will put in any worthwhile fixes for their initial overreaching/broken implementation anytime soon. So it’s better to just tell Google to fuck off straight from the start.

4. Laws haven’t caught up with privacy in job hiring yet. So I personally avoid linking my real name to my online presence as much as I can. You never know when an employer will Google your real name in search of what you do online. Sure I can secure my public info like I painstaking do with Facebook, but really, why go through the trouble? If I just stick with an online handle, I don’t have to think about this problem at all. There are just no benefits I can see between linking the two unless you are trying to streamline your online presence.

Which takes me to why I believe Google is now making the push here. It was pretty damn obvious we’d get to this point, and it all depending on Google+’s progress. Now that they have a fairly good group of celebrities, companies, businesses, and even the government using Google+, they want to provide more “benefit” towards these groups by unifying their online presence. This will give all of their various Google service pages more visibility and make it easier to manage… for them. For the rest of us average joes, what benefit does this provide us, Google?

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50% of New Users Stick with Google+

m4s0n501

So there has been some talk about Google+ dropping in traffic by some 60% according to Chitika’s statistics. Looking at the graph and comparing it to the Google Trends info about Google+ leads to some fairly obvious and interesting conclusions.

Google+ 2011 Trends

First off, the info about those letters from Google Trends:
[A] Google launches Facebook rival ‘Google+’ – Sydney Morning Herald – Jun 29 2011
[B] Google+ social network membership tops 10 million – The Province – Jul 15 2011
[C] Google+ social network adds games – Ottawa Citizen – Aug 12 2011
[D] Google+ opens to everyone, takes fight to Facebook – Zee News – Sep 21 2011

If we use Paul Allen’s user base estimate (an interesting read), we can see that the second spike’s (point D) downward slope correlates to about a 14 million user base increase. This would be from Sept. 21st (the start of the traffic increase on Chitika’s graph) to Sept. 27th (the end of Chikita’s graph). Considering the estimate that there are about 50 million users after this spike, we can conclude that the user base shot up by 33%. Seeing as how new users will be posting several times more than established users, 33% increase of users causing a 60% traffic spike seems fairly reasonable. Of course, the result is that traffic will drop back down to normal levels afterwards. The most interesting points to then compare on Chitika’s graph are the average traffic numbers from before the opening of Google+ and the average traffic after the spike settled down. The numbers from the 18th to 19th seem to average out to 50 while the numbers from the 25th to 27th average out to about 60 on the traffic index.

So what do we know? A 33% increase in user base from 36 million to 50 million correlates to a 20% increase from 50 to 60 on the traffic index. So this new group of 14 million users ended up having a lower usage rate of Google+. How low? Well using these numbers, we can estimate that every 1 million users from the initial base results in 1.39 points on the traffic index. Meanwhile, every 1 million new users results in 0.71 points on the traffic index. That either means newer users use Google+ about half as much as established users OR only about half of those 14 million bothered to stay after seeing what Google+ had to offer. I’m leaning towards concluding that Google+ has a 50% retention rate as human behavior isn’t going to be drastically different in terms of site usage over a large sample size.

Another bit of interesting info is that if you compare the jump from release to their first peak at 10 million users (A to B) and to the spike in September prior to opening to the public (no doubt induced by rumors) on the Google Trends chart, you’ll see that the magnitude of the slopes are the about the same. Considering how the first 10 million users were invite only and the second coming of 14 million users were from open signups, I’d say Google wasted their buzz value (based on Search Volume Index). How much did they waste? If we estimate the Search Volume Index points for the slopes to be about 2, then it took about 0.2 points to get every 1 million users during invite only and about 0.14 points to get every 1 million users after opening signups. So Google squandered about 25% of their publicity buzz after their initial announcement.

Now let’s take my crappy statistical analysis a step further and say that had Google opened signups from the start (or after a 2-3 days of conservative initial testing), they would not have squandered their marketing and gotten a 25% larger user base with 100% retention/higher usage rate (1.39 traffic index points per 1 million users). That means prior to Sept. 21st, instead of 36 million users at 50 traffic index points, they’d have 45 million users at about 62 traffic index points. The following week would have simply continued the trend of signups and they would have hit the 50 million mark anyway. However, you can already see that their average site traffic would be much higher and their signup rate could have possibly accelerated after hitting critical mass instead of slowing down and needing the adrenaline boost of open signups.

The major counterpoints made by Facebook that lead me to this conclusion are the introduction of the better Group/Friend List feature, the much more clear (albeit still not perfect) privacy settings, and the more streamlined interface for managing what is shown to whom on your Facebook page. These were all pushed out in response to Google+ and seeing as how only 50% of users after open signups decided to stay, I’d say that Facebook made a very good counterattack. Stunting Google+’s effective retention rate by 50% is enormous and will guarantee that Facebook stays in the lead for quite a while (perhaps long enough to turn Google+ into a niche social network). All of this could have been avoided by Google if they opened signups immediately. The fallout of their closed beta period is resulting in the same backlash that I predicted: lack of engagement by newer users post open signup, lost momentum (though, not a total loss, just less efficient, and now they have to fight based on features. Features that, I might add, are easily copied by Facebook. Their more unique features, like Hangouts, also have to compete with established products like Skype and all manner of chat systems.

If Google+ ends up falling to the wayside, the wasted marketing due to not immediately opening up the service will be the primary contributing factor to its failure. I just hope that doesn’t come to pass as we consumers need competition in this space.

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Google+ 1 me?

If you haven’t already heard, Google is taking yet another foray into social media with the newly release Google+. The concept is interesting (especially the +Circles method of organizing acquaintances) and is something I’m sure many people would like to try. However, there’s the rub. Lot’s of us who hate Facebook (or are simply tech junkies) would love to try Google+ but cannot do so since it is invite only. This is par for the course when it comes to Google projects since it:

  1. Allows them to scale slowly.
  2. Do their A/B testing in waves.
  3. Build anticipation for a full release.

In addition to this, Google is trying to solve the problem of initial population seed with this reasoning:

The inability of Google+ users to instantly import their Facebook connections underlies the biggest immediate challenge to the product: Like all social networks, its value is directly related to the degree that one’s friends and contacts are also participating. Beginning a social network is always a huge risk because of the chicken-and-egg problem — the whole thing doesn’t work unless a user’s friends and contacts are on board. Otherwise the place risks becoming an “Emptytown” where people try it, are unable to connect with anyone and then forget about it.

Google hopes that its slow rollout will encourage a steady momentum, and in the early stages Google+ will provide enough value to keep the early adopters engaged, and that it will motivate them to invite their contacts.

Source

So basically Google is banking on their service to be awesome enough to keep users vested in the product. You know, this reminds me of another cool service that failed… oh yeah. Wave.

I’ll admit that I have a certain affinity for Google products and like to keep tabs on the news services they create. However, what pisses me off about their slow rollout strategy is that I have never gotten an early invite to any of these services. Google Buzz, with its instant turn on for everyone, was the sole exception and guess what? I still use it despite the early privacy problems. Google’s best bet in getting into the social arena is to go all in at the beginning and take advantage of the initial hype. If their platform is really so good that initial users will stay engaged, then having a larger (or unlimited) initial seed will help them build momentum faster and reduce the risk of the population dying out before the next wave of users (pun intended) come in (ex: perhaps rollout by region). All I’m asking for is a bit more info as to when new users can join in on the fun.

I also find it disingenuous to call the select group of initial users “early adopters.” They didn’t adopt anything. They were part of the chosen few. None of the people who saw the blog post on day 1 got to adopt anything. Here is a marketing tip for you Google – if you plan on creating hype and doing this:

Google+ is in limited Field Trial
Right now, we’re testing with a small number of people, but it won’t be long before the Google+ project is ready for everyone. Leave us your email address and we’ll make sure you’re the first to know when we’re ready to invite more people.
Then you should take a page out of Apple’s book and leak bits of information at controlled intervals. Use viral marketing to its fullest (you do own YouTube after all) and “leak” videos about the new service with a vague notion of a release date. Let your initial users take screenshots or desktop videos and post them on YouTube as a way to generate hype and garner instant feedback on what looks good/bad. As for the actual release date, it can be set right around the time when Google+ “is ready for everyone.” Let the hype engine build slowly and then open it up to everyone. Otherwise, all you are doing is pouring gasoline onto a fire without adding any wood. Tons of hype but quick burn out.

 

P.S. If you want more evidence of kind of negative backlash can be caused by a slow rollout, take Reddit’s recent April Fool’s prank as a case study. For those of us who didn’t get to join in early on, we ended up giving up on Reddit for a day and concluded that the prank had potential but was executed poorly. This is what will happen to Google+.
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