Google PlusLast month Google launched their Social Network Google+ to compete with Facebook and Twitter, among others. After failed attempts in the Social game with Buzz and Wave, the third time seems to be the charm for Google as Google+ continues to grow at outstanding rates. One month in we examine Google+’s growth, who is using it, how it differs from other Social Networks, and what we can expect moving forward. But before we dive into that, here is a quick look at the Google+ Project.

Impressive Growth

So now that Google+ has been around for a month, users have begun to wrap their head around the new tool. After just 16 days, Google+ had reached the 10 million member mark, much faster than both Twitter and Facebook had (780 days and 852 days respectively.) Today Google+ has surpassed the 20 million member mark, but growth is slowing down.

So how has Google+ been able to gain users at such an impressive rate? I believe the answer is two fold. First, Google is already an extremely well-established and trusted brand on the web. Millions of people worldwide already have Gmail accounts and use Google Search daily. Secondly, Facebook and Twitter have already broken the Social Media mold. Back in the mid 2000’s Social Media was much newer to society. Facebook and Twitter were forced to prove the usefulness of Social Media to the world. Because of their efforts and popularity, Google+ is finding it much easier to break into the market. Furthermore, many people used Facebook and Twitter to share the news about their newest competitor with others. In fact, Hitwise reported that within the first 2 weeks of Google+’s launch, there were almost 2 millions Tweets on the subject.

Who is using Google+?

According to Hitwise, in the early stages Google+ has been dominated by young adults with almost 40% of all visits coming from the 25-34 age bracket. Initially Google+ was primarily male, with over 85% of the visits in the first two weeks coming from men, but that number has since dropped to 57%. Where in the World are these users coming from? Not surprisingly, the United States boasts the most amount of Google+ users as far as countries go with 5.31 million. India comes in second with 2.85 million and the U.K. in third with 0.88 million with Canada (Yes, Canada) slightly behind at 0.87 million. This should not be a surprise as Canadians are among the most engaged and connected individuals in the World.

What Differentiates Google+?

So really, what makes Google+ different from other Social Networks such as Facebook and Twitter? While many people have questioned why Google has entered this extremely saturated and competitive market, Google feels as if they have developed a competitive advantage by learning from others’ mistakes.

Google believes that most Social Networks have failed at making it easy to find friends, whereas Google+’s Circles feature is fun and addictive. Google says that by making Circles visual, personal and video game like, users will enjoy and even crave to find friends on Google+.

Secondly, while other sites have tried to integrate video chat, Google+ has perfected it with Hangouts. This feature was designed to be less formal than traditional one-on-one video chats with the goal of creating a more relaxed environment where friends can literally hang out with each from anywhere around the world. The Google+ team envisions people having virtual parties and playing games over Hangouts, instead of the traditional two-person conversation that so many people engage in.

Over the past few years we have all seen Twitter and Facebook battle with never ending privacy issues. However, Google+ claims that they have privacy settings are second to none. “We want to appeal to the mainstream user who has a low tolerance for complexity,” Google+ designer Andy Hertzfeld says, “and at the same time we have to respect privacy as strongly as possible. So every feature has privacy implications that we thought out.”

Finally, Google+’s Instant Upload feature allows users to share content with their friends faster than ever before. True to its name, Instant Upload automatically uploads content such as photos literally instantly.

Moving Forward

With the introduction of the Google+ iPhone app last week, Google continues it’s pursuit of Social Media supremacy. The app, which is very clean and intuitive, soared to the top of Apple’s most downloaded list within 24 hours of it’s launch.

But what does all this mean for your business? While Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are used by millions of businesses worldwide, Google+ had asked that businesses refrain from creating profiles – for the time being. Google+ has begun disabling accounts created by businesses while they work on developing a platform that will allow businesses to use Google+ to interact with customers on the Social Network. Google+ product manager Christian Oestlien provided users with this update on business profiles last week.

So for now, businesses must play the waiting game. While this main seem like a pain, here at WebFuel we think it will be worth the wait. Expect for the business profiles to be designed not only aesthetically pleasing, but also with fully integrated analytics and highly sophisticated sharing options. And knowing Google, it will be fully integrated with Search. It promises to be worth the wait.

In the meantime, get yourself a personal profile on Google+. Play around with it – familiarize yourself with the interface, its functionality and features such as Circles, Hangouts and Instant Upload. The more comfortable you become with Google+ now, the easier it will to incorporate your business profile later this fall.

Are you on Google+? What are your initial thoughts? Does it really have what it takes to overtake Facebook and Twitter?

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