In light of recent reports of Google+ gaining significant traction, I wanted to find out: Is Google+ worth the effort from a marketer’s perspective? The short answer: Yes! From our perspective, Google+ is already beating LinkedIn in terms of how much traffic they’re driving, and it’s quickly closing in on Twitter and Facebook!

For this case study, I compiled Web analytics data for the WordStream Internet Marketing Blog for the week of July 18-July 24, 2011 (an unusually high traffic week for us), to see which social media network drove the most traffic – the results are illustrated below: The Social Media Showdown: Google+ vs. Facebook vs. Twitter vs. LinkedIn (click to enlarge).

The results of the Social Media Showdown are as follows:

  1. 1st Place: Facebook with 47.26% of visitors
  2. 2nd Place: Twitter with 27.51% of visitors
  3. 3rd Place: Google+ with 15.42% of visitors
  4. 4th Place: LinkedIn with 9.81% of visitors

Google+, despite only being around for 1 month – and even then, being released in a limited “field testing” mode, drove more traffic to our blog than LinkedIn – it was roughly a third of our Facebook traffic and over half of our Twitter traffic. This was a huge surprise given how many Facebook fans and Twitter followers we’ve accumulated over the last several years, and given that at the time of this writing, I don’t even have a company presence on Google+ yet, or any Google +1 buttons on our website. (Though plans are in the works for both!)

How is it possible that Google+ with just 20 million users could beat LinkedIn with over 100 million users, and be closing in on Twitter with 175 Million Users? I believe it may have to do with:

  • Novelty, Spam: Because Google+ is so new, it hasn’t yet been ruined by spammers in the way Twitter has been taken over by so much automated Twitter spam or how Facebook is overrun by so many annoying apps – less spam might make it easier for users to find shared content.
  • User Engagement: LinkedIn boasts 5x more users than Google+, but LinkedIn may likely have lower user engagement metrics. A recent Pew Internet study showed that just 3% of LinkedIn users check the network several times a day, compared to 31% – or about 232 million – of Facebook users, or 20% of Twitter users. And over half (53%) of Twitter profiles use the network somewhere between every four weeks and never.

The Social Media Showdown: Case Study Methodology

I looked at Web traffic to our blog between July 18-July 24, 2011 – ordinarily I wouldn’t consider our blog to be a bellwether for social media engagement, but on July 18, we published a study called “Where Does Google Make Their Money?” The story went viral and was picked up in hundreds of publications including Wired Magazine, The Guardian, MSNBC, CBS, Media Post, Search Engine Land, TechCrunch, the New York Times, and many other publications. In addition, there was substantial coverage by international media outlets in Japan, Russia, France, Canada and Australia.

All-in, the story generated a huge, diversified global audience of approximately 1 million people – with roughly half of the traffic coming directly from people sharing the story on various social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. I created a segmentation in Google Analytics for our blog traffic to analyze the sources of the traffic referred by social media. Like any case study, I can only speak for my own experiences with Google+, but nevertheless, I found the results to be surprising!

Is Google Worth the Effort from a Marketer’s Perspective?

Yes! I believe that Google+ presents tremendous, real traffic generation opportunities for small businesses. I highly recommend deploying Google +1 buttons to websites and developing a corporate Google+ presence to better take advantage of this rapidly emerging social media channel.

Visit “Facebook vs. Google+ vs. Twitter vs. LinkedIn: The Social Media Showdown” to embed the graphic on your own site.

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