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:
- 1st Place: Facebook with 47.26% of visitors
- 2nd Place: Twitter with 27.51% of visitors
- 3rd Place: Google+ with 15.42% of visitors
- 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.
Let the Facebook vs. Google  vs. Twitter vs. LinkedIn battle continue!
Hit me up on Twitter:
Follow @larrykim