Google+ social network adds games

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google plus thumb Google+ social network adds gamesGoogle+ added games, including the hugely popular Angry Birds, to the fast-growing social network vying with Facebook to be the hub for people’s online lives.

‘We want to make playing games online just as fun, and just as meaningful, as playing in real life,’ Google senior vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra said in a blog post.

‘When you’re ready to play, the Games page is waiting.’

Along with global game sensation Angry Birds, the initial array of offerings available at Google+ included Bejeweled Blitz, Zynga Poker, and Dragon Age Legends.

Google is a latecomer to social networking but its new site, Google+, has grown rapidly to more than 10 million members since its launch on June 28.

While Google+ may be the fastest-growing social network ever, it remains to be seen whether it can pose a serious threat to the social networking titan Facebook, which has more than 750 million members.

Google has a billion users worldwide that could be drawn into the California-based internet giant’s social network.

Games are among the most popular activities at Facebook, where social game startup Zynga rose to stardom.

Most Google+ users — 6.4 million — are in the United States, followed by India, with 3.6 million, Canada, with 1.1 million, Britain, with 1.1 million, and Germany with over 920,000, according to online tracker comScore.

In unveiling Google+, Google stressed the ability it gives users to separate online friends and family into different ‘Circles,’ or networks, and to share information only with members of a particular circle.

One of the criticisms of Facebook is that updates are shared with all of one’s friends unless a user has gone through a relatively complicated process to create separate Facebook Groups.


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Social Network Comments Fuel Offline Behaviour

Social networks are becoming a part of everyday life for many users, and their offline habits are affected by their participation.

In November 2010, the Pew Internet & American Life Project surveyed US social network users for the “Social Network Sites and Our Lives” report, released in June 2011, and found that 31% of social network users are on Facebook several times a day. Additionally, 21% of respondents use the site about once a day. This is followed by Twitter, which 20% of social network users check several times a day and 13% use about once a day.

As consumers use these social sites several times a day or week, they are also commenting on posts from friends just as often. The Pew study found that 26% of female Facebook users and 17% of male Facebook users comment on Facebook posts at least once a day. Further, the study found that 57% of female Facebook users and 48% of male Facebook users comment on posts at least once a week.

But social network users are not just responding on social media. The April 2011 “S-Net: The Impact of Social Media” study by ROI Research found that 60% of US social network users were at least somewhat likely to take action when a friend posted something about a product, service, company or brand on a social media site. Only 18% were not at all likely to take action.

The study doesn’t elaborate on what exactly respondents would do, but another question asked specifically what actions US social network users would be more likely to take after following a company or product on Facebook or Twitter. On Facebook, 53% of respondents said the top activities would be purchasing the brand or company’s product and recommending the company or product. For Twitter, the top activities were talking about the company or product (61%), recommending the company or product (59%) and purchasing the brand or company’s product (58%).

Fans or followers of a brand are influenced by what they see from these company accounts, but they are also influenced by what their friends say about brands or companies that they don’t necessarily follow. It’s another area for marketers to focus on—the reach they have and how their brand fans may influence their own friends and followers.


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Days of Double-Digit Growth in Social Network Users Are Over

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Social networking now reaches most internet users in the US and has become an integral part of their lives. Thanks to the rapid growth of Facebook, updating status, posting comments and sharing links with friends have become routine activities for millions of people.

eMarketer estimates nearly 150 million US web users will use social networks via any device at least monthly this year, bringing the reach of such sites to 63.7% of the online population. But the days of double-digit growth in users are over as social networking reaches a saturation point. By 2013, 164.2 million Americans will use social networks, or 67% of internet users.

“With fewer new users signing up, social network users will be more sophisticated and discerning about the people and brands they want to engage with,” said Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer principal analyst and author of the new report, “US Social Network Usage: 2011 Demographic and Behavioral Trends.”

Even as the social network audience has broadened to include a significant number of people from the Generation X, boomer and senior age segments, the youngest age groups are still the most represented, active and engaged. The enormous usage increases in some older age groups over the past two years will be less pronounced in the coming years.

Still, more than half of internet users ages 45 to 64 and over four out of five 12- to- 34-year-old online users will be regular social network users in 2011. The highest penetration level of all age groups will remain in the 18-to-24 age group, where 90% of internet users will use social networks this year.

“In 2011, social networks will need to cement their relationships with their users, particularly people ages 35 and older, in order to keep them engaged,” said Williamson. “Marketers and media companies can contribute to this effort by creating compelling user experiences that make people want to stay connected to social networks so they can gain access to experiences, deals or content they may not be able to find anywhere else.”

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Social Network Ad Revenues Rising Worldwide

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Thanks to Facebook, social networks are steadily increasing their share of total online ad spending in the US.

In 2011, 10.8% of all US online ad spending will go to social networks. Next year, the share of spending going toward social destinations is expected to rise to 12.1%.

“Major marketers are integrating social media into their overall marketing programs,” said Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer principal analyst and author of the new report “Worldwide Social Network Ad Spending: 2011 Outlook.” “As they do so, advertising in social destinations is becoming a more logical part of their plan.”

On a worldwide basis, social networks are also increasing their representation. Of the nearly $69 billion marketers will spend on online advertising worldwide in 2011, 8.7% will land on social networks, rising to 10.2% of $79 billion in 2012.

By 2012, markets outside the US will account for more than half of social network ad spending. This shift will come as Facebook increases its global footprint and improves monetization in developing markets. Homegrown social networks in Russia, China and Japan—where Facebook has not yet penetrated—will also continue to see growth in usage and ad spending.

In addition, in some countries, such as Japan and China, mobile is the predominant way to access social networks. As mobile advertising becomes more sophisticated, eMarketer expects more ads to funnel into mobile versions of social networks.

“The skepticism of a few years ago has faded; large brands are allocating more marketing budget to social media than ever before, and their social network ad spending is also rising,” said Williamson. “Two categories of advertisers are emerging: major brand marketers that increase budgets gradually, and performance advertisers that spend heavily and bring extensive search marketing expertise.”

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Facebook Drives US Social Network Ad Spending Past $3 Billion in 2011

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US marketers will spend $3.08 billion to advertise on social networking sites this year, eMarketer predicts. Spending will be up 55% over the $1.99 billion advertisers devoted to social networks in 2010 and will rise by a further 27.7% next year to reach nearly $4 billion.

This year’s dramatic growth in spending will bring social media ad dollars to 10.8% of the total spent online in the US. Worldwide, where social network ad spending will rise 71.6% to $5.97 billion, that proportion will be somewhat lower, at 8.7%.

The 2011 forecast for US spending is $1 billion higher than eMarketer’s last estimate of US social network ad spending, made in August 2010. The primary driver of the change in projected spending is greater ad spending on Facebook, by far the biggest player in the space.

”2010 was the year that Facebook firmly established itself as a major force not only in social network advertising but all of online advertising,” said eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson, author of the upcoming report “Worldwide Social Network Ad Spending: 2011 Outlook.” “In 2011, its global presence is something multinational advertisers can’t ignore.”

eMarketer predicts ad spending on the world’s top social network will reach $2.19 billion in the US this year and just over $4 billion worldwide—both more than double last year’s figure.

“If Facebook can continue to increase its global user base and boost the amount of revenue it generates per user, it could even surpass these forecasts,” Williamson said. “Facebook must continue to innovate its user experience and its ad platform.”

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Facebook U.S. Growth Stagnates in June

After growing by 7.8 million new active U.S. users in May, Facebook growth stagnated in June, adding only 320,800 new users.

Total number of active U.S. users now stands at 125,000,000.

According to Inside Facebook Gold, which offers Facebook data and analysis, it is not unusual to see a saturated country like the U.S. take a breather after a growth spurt.

Slightly less users in the 18-44 demo – which represents Facebook’s largest age demographic – were active on Facebook in June, compared to May. While the loss in that demo could be just a blip, it could also be the result of backlash from heavy media attention to Facebook’s privacy issues – some of which were real and others, Inside Facebook claims, the result of confusion and sensationalism.

The ages that logged the losses in June were those most likely to have listened to the privacy debates.

More Facebook Stats

  • Facebook has more than 400 million active users
  • 50% of its active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average users have 130 friends
  • People spend over 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook
  • The average user is connected to 60 pages, groups and events
  • The average user creates 70 pieces of content each month
  • More than 25 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) are shared each month.

One-Third of Twitter Users Talk Brands

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Many social site users make good use of the voice that the medium provides them to talk about brands, products and services. An April 2010 study by ROI Research commissioned by Performics found that, at least once a week, 33% of active Twitter users share opinions about companies or products, while 32% make recommendations and 30% ask for them.

Marketers using social media have tried to foster this type of earned media and other brand interactions, but a comparison of the study results with previous research, from October 2009, shows little change in consumers’ brand-oriented behavior.

On Twitter, significant percentages of users who had connected with a brand would recommend, discuss or purchase from the company, but those numbers inched slightly downward over six months.

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On Facebook, users had similarly static opinions on the usefulness of social media to connect with brands. A healthy percentage were interested, but the practice did not become more important between October 2009 and April 2010.

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“Social networking has greatly contributed to the shift from strict consumerism to more lively, two-way participation between brands and everyday customers,” said Daina Middleton, CEO of Performics, in a statement. “It’s a groundswell of technology-enabled word-of-mouth, and many of the brands involved in these active discussions are effectively satisfying their fans.”

Other consumers are content on the sidelines, using social sites primarily to connect with friends and family. Word-of-mouth opportunities still exist to reach them through those connections, even if they are not talking about brands.