Is Google+ Really Growing? [infographic]

Google+Growth-25-Millions-600x324Google+ has registered the fastest user growth when compared to its social networking counterparts. The site reached 10 million users early on and 20 million in mid July. The August figures are registered around 25 million users.

As Google continued to roll out their “by invitation only” beta, users lined up around the block. But when the network revamped its G+ invite system, giving each person 150 invites, we expected an exponential increase in activity on Google+. However, according to a Chitika study, traffic peaked on the 21st of July and has been declining since.

Recent Studies on Google+ :
While browsing more on this topic, I found an interesting study by Bime, a data visualization firm, which shows the growth story of Google+ taking a sample of 10 million users. This study establishes that the number of the users seems to have certainly shot up, almost doubled, but whether the network has been able to keep the users engaged is not clear. Could it possibly mean that Google+ was just a fad and people are back to good old Facebook after trying their hand on Google+?

It was observed that 83% of users in this study are classified as “inactive”, which clearly explains the reason for decline in traffic. The study also shows a shift in user demographics as the platform has been attracting more students as compared to tech workers in its beta phase.

The study has been laid out in form of an interesting infographic – or rather interactive dashboard – so please click on the picture below to view the statistics in full screen:


googleplus2 450x1024 Google+ User Statistics Part II   How have the demographics shifted since G+ came out of beta?
Source: Google+ User Statistics Part II – BimeAnalytics.com
There are a few things to note before diving into the data. 1. The data is taken from a SAMPLE, not from the whole G+ population. 2. People are indexed at random for the sample. 3. It’s a snapshot in time! The numbers will have again slightly shifted since the dashboard was created. Data was used from over a period of 2 days, between the 16th and the 18th of August 2011.

Get Ready for the Bots – on Facebook Messenger

2Facebook Messenger was released 5 years ago and now has over 900 million users. Originally receiving a flood of negativity towards a standalone messaging app, compared to one simple Facebook app, users seem to be warming to it. The decision to make it standalone does make a lot of sense, since messaging is a big part of people’s lives nowadays and Facebook even bought the domain messenger.com to launch a version for web browsers last year. Their 900 million users will more than likely be merged with Whatsapp’s 1 billion users, which means that Facebook will have the personal phone number of every single user – sounds like $19 billion well spent.

 

Open for Business

So that’s humans covered. Where to go next? Facebook is now venturing into their next Messenger-based project: bots. If you haven’t been keeping up, Facebook launched Messenger Platform last month, which holds within it, chatterbots. Luckily, these bots are not machine learning bots, such as the disaster that was Microsoft’s Tay. They do have some humorous replies if provoked but they ultimately steer the conversation back to the subject they’re designed to cater for. Thanks to their highly advanced Send/Receive API, these bots are able to reply with actual structured messages, including links, images, hotel reservations, the weather etc. You may immediately compare this to Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Google Now and Amazon Echo, but what sets bots on Messenger apart is the fact that businesses can develop them, which in turn gives them another way to develop customer service. Simply put, bots could end up changing the world by replacing humans in such job sectors. Without the bespoke customer service integration that Messenger bots provide, the above voice-activated services will most likely not be able to solve business-related queries themselves. Having said that, the way bots behave is very reminiscent of the way Siri does. Maybe they’ll talk to each other one day and we’ll get the best of both.

 

Customer Service and Added Value

So how can these bots work for brands? Well, eventually, every major company in the world will have an account, which will be a first port of call when contacting their company. The reason this is almost definite is due to Facebook’s already-mammoth-sized network of users. It doesn’t get any bigger than Facebook when advertising to individual people, so connecting Messenger bots (as customer sales reps, for example) is extremely attractive. Messenger codes, one of many things taken from Snapchat, will also make it easier for businesses to connect with their customers. One industry example is how bots will almost certainly change how banking works for the consumer, replacing an app or web-based system with a dialogue with a machine that is able to understand your every need. The option to send money within Messenger itself is highly likely too, like Snapchat allows. This could also eliminate the hassle of speaking to a bank’s voice recognition system when calling by telephone – no more time (and money) wasted by the dreaded “I didn’t catch that. Please try again.” These voice recognition systems are essentially bots done badly, but they’re based on voice, which is a lot more difficult to translate into zeros and ones. Plus, you cannot autocorrect your voice (yet). I can see this whole system being replaced by bots – it could even connect you to a human advisor with ease, as you’re most likely already using your phone. Even if you’re using the desktop version or Facebook Chat, I’m sure they’ll figure something out. Besides banks, what other markets will benefit from this? Restaurants, travel and possibly supermarkets with online shopping services are big industries for it to thrive. The healthcare industry could also be a large portion – Healthtap have already created their bot, which isn’t surprising considering one of the first ever chatterbots was called DOCTOR and simulated a psychotherapist. In fact, the potential amount of markets are endless for this stream of interaction – just like it is with human customer service.

 

At the end of the day, customers are moving towards messaging as their preferred choice of customer service. And as generations progress, it will no doubt become the standard – a phone call will most likely be reserved for long, meaningful conversations with friends and family, which in turn will add even more meaning to them. The phone call will no longer be taken for granted, but talking to robots will be.