Google+, the social networking site launched earlier this year by the US-based search engine giant, has been struggling to build on its early success. This is according to new data from Experian Hitwise, which said the new site is "losing millions of visitors".
Launched to existing Google users by invite-only in June, Google+ was billed as a social network to rival Facebook, which has more than 800 million active users. And shortly after it was fully opened in September, data suggested that it might be set to challenge Facebook's market dominance.
However, new figures from Experian Hitwise have revealed that despite a huge spike in visitors once Google+ went live, the site's popularity has not lasted. Initially, the site went from one million unique users to 15 million in one week. But unfortunately for Google, that momentum appears to have been lost, with more than half of the new 14 million users opting to not return to use the site during the following week. Google+ has, in fact, lost nearly half of the visitors who initially came to the site.
Nikesh Arora, Google's chief business officer, has defended the performance of the new social networking site, insisting that it was never designed to directly compete with Facebook. "Google+, for us, is not a social network," he explained.
"It is a platform which allows us to bring social elements into all the services and products that we offer," Mr Arora commented. "So you have seen YouTube come into Google+; you've seen Google+ with 'direct connect' go into our search business. We are trying to make sure we use social signals across all of our products ... It's not just about getting people together on one site and calling it a social network."
Google's chief business officer added that the underpinning of the modern web was destined to be social rather than information-based. If users are to take full advantage of socially-driven services, Mr Arora said that they would need to provide more personal information about themselves and their preferences to internet companies.
Despite Mr Arora downplaying the significance of the new data, Larry Page, Google's chief executive, has prioritized the performance of Google+, making employees' bonuses dependent upon the success of all social products. Some 25 per cent of all Google employees' annual bonuses are related to the success or failure of the firm's social strategy in 2011.