Users don’t stick around for Google+, study reveals

Poor Google.

Google+, the social network on which the search engine is betting its future, has more than 90 million users—the only problem is, they barely ever use it.

According to a new study from ComScore, the average Google+ user spent only 3.3 minutes on the site in January, compared to 6-7 hours logged by the average Facebook user over the course of the month.

It’s not just that Google+ is slow out of the gate, either. The numbers have actually gone down since November when users spent 5.1 minutes on the site.

One caveat to remember is that ComScore’s data doesn’t take mobile users into consideration. (A Google spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal, which reported on the study, that ComScore’s figures don’t match its internal numbers, which Google hasn’t released.) But while mobile data would certainly pad Google+’s numbers, there’s no reason it wouldn’t do the same for Facebook and Twitter.

An infographic posted by the Journal shows other interesting trends revealed by the data. For example, the new kid in town, Pinterest, has already caught up to Tumblr in terms of time spent on site, with users clocking in at 89 minutes a month. Twitter’s time on site lagged behind at 21 minutes, though Twitter’s extensive use on mobile apps and third-party desktop clients likely understates users’ involvement.

But the biggest indignity suffered by Google+ in the race for social network dominance is that when it comes to time on site, it’s even losing to MySpace. Yes, that MySpace, the one with your little brother’s old, neglected page for a band that broke up in 2008, the one that News Corp. purchased for $580 million in 2005 and sold six years later for less than a tenth of that price.

Before racing off with a “MySpace beats Google+” headline, it’s important to remember that average-tme-on-site data don’t tell the whole story. It takes a pretty deliberate decision to visit MySpace. (When was the last time you randomly stumbled upon a MySpace page?) Those who do visit likely have some affinity for the site.

Google+, on the other hand, is always looming in the navigation bar of Gmail and other Google services, beckoning logged-in users to click on it.

Unfortunately for Google, the data suggests most clickers aren’t enthralled by what they see.

David Holmes

David Holmes

David Holmes is a technology and politics reporter. His work has appeared in Fast Company, the Guardian, the Daily Beast, and Stereogum. In 2011, he wrote the acclaimed "The Fracking Song (My Water's on Fire Tonight) based on ProPublica's investigation on hydraulic fractured gas drilling.