Experian Hitwise released a report today that supports a slowdown in usage of the Google+ social network. According to the analytics firm, total Google+ visits fell by three percent during the week of July 23. The week prior (July 16) saw a traffic increase of 283 percent over the previous week at about 1.86 million visits. User engagement also dropped as Google+ members spent 10% less time on the site. Specifically, users spent about 5 minutes, 15 seconds on the site during the July 23 week compared to nearly 6 minutes during the July 16 week.
Google co-founder Larry Page claimed that users had shared over one billion items on Google+ on a July 14 conference call and comScore reported that the site broke 20 million users last week. It’s possible the waning interest in the social network can be explained by the lack of access to the public. Without friends to populate the network, users are less likely to spend time on Google+ and focus attention on social networks like Facebook.
However, Google has been criticized for making a series of missteps regarding user profiles and brand pages over the past 10 days. Without notifying users, Google mass deleted profiles based on the criteria that pseudonyms cannot be used for names. Many users with identical names to prominent figures also were deleted as Google flagged the accounts as invalid. Businesses have also had difficulty setting up brand pages. While Google asked businesses and brands to hold off on creating an account until support rolled out, they deleted existing pages created by brands much to the dismay of the tech community.
Google’s VP of social Vic Gundotra took blame for the lack of notification regarding the deletions and specifically attributed the rapid growth of the social network. This has also caused Google to push up the timetable on creating brand pages and hopes to push out a finished product in the next three months. Responding to Google’s lack of product, Facebook pushed out a press release today regarding brand pages.