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Page won't show his ring to prove Google+ 'engagement'

90 million 'users' ... but are they just there for GMail?

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Analysis Mountain View is still struggling to explain exactly how many of the people who have at least signed in once to its social network are actually sticking around and sharing posts with other users.

The company saw its shares tank yesterday, after its financial results surprisingly underperformed Wall Street expectations.

Google has been energetically realigning its business to make the search engine giant belch out more "personal results" via its social network.

As part of that move, the world's largest ad broker announced yesterday that it now has 90 million global users signed up to Google+.

It clearly hopes to ratchet up that userbase, but sadly for Google, its failure to provide a breakdown of how much live activity is taking place on its network leaves the company open to ridicule.

Google execs could learn a thing or two from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg here. He has previously described sign-up metrics as being a bit dull.

The real stuff the social network god gets excited about is engagement from users with his site.

In July, Zuck said he wasn't bothered about reporting the company's total number of signups, which is reportedly closing in on one billion users.

At the time, he said that Facebookers were sharing over four billion different things each day.

That's clearly a much more interesting number. Arguably, of course the signup metric for Facebook is a good deal more telling than the one cited by Larry Page for Google+ just yesterday.

That's because Facebook has only one destination online.

Google, in contrast, has an array of internet properties that the company has only recently decided to link up with one sign-in to rule them all.

The Chocolate Factory isn't saying anything about those users who are automatically signed into Google+, for example, after simply accessing their Gmail accounts.

So what did Page say during his earnings call with reporters on Thursday?

Helpfully, the Google boss has provided a transcript via Google+, natch.

I’m... pleased to announce that there are over 90 million Google+ users - well over double what I announced just a quarter ago on our earnings call. Engagement on + is also growing tremendously. I have some amazing data to share there for the first time: +users are very engaged with our products - over 60 per cent of them engage daily, and over 80 per cent weekly.

But as I said last quarter, Google+ is about much more than the individual features themselves. It’s also about building a meaningful relationship with users so that we can dramatically improve the services we offer. Understanding who people are, what they care about, and the other people that matter to them is crucial if we are to give users what they need, when they need it.

Take last week’s Search announcement, which I’m really excited about. We’ve now included personal results in Search, so you easily find information like photos and +posts that are super relevant to you - as well as the people you care about, or are interested in. You can even restrict to all personal results or easily view Google in 'world' mode just as you would have before. I really like it, and I encourage all of you to try it out too.

Page said "engagement" on Google+ was increasing fast, but then failed to drill down on that detail by stating that "+users" were simply plugged into the company's products.

That's a wishy washy statement that tells us the obvious - people with Google accounts interact with the firm's different online services.

It might be the case that 60 per cent of the 90 million people that have so far signed up to Google+ engage with the site on a daily basis, but why not offer some juicy detail on how many different posts and links are being shared each day via the site?

Is Google staying quiet about such metrics because the reality is that that particular number is unimpressive?

In effect, Google appears to be nervously fretting about "engagement" from its userbase. Page must surely be thinking: "If only they'd put a ring on it." ®

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