Google+ grows to 250 million

Cape Town - Google is celebrating the first anniversary of its social network as the internet giant takes on established players.

Google+ has more than 250 million users of which half sign in every day and spend about an hour of the network, Google told News24.

The company has seen rapid growth of the social network but has moved to avoid the problem of companies using the platform to spam users.

Firms may establish brand pages on Google+, but may not send marketing material to users unless authorised.

"We've got one million brand pages. You can't share anything with people unless they add you to their circle," Elizma Nolte, marketing manager for Google+ told News24.

Advertising

Facebook had just over five million users in 2005, a year after its launch, and has approximately 900 million today.

The company targets users with advertising, but has come under fire for privacy violations and in 2011, agreed to settle US Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers.

Google's recently revamped its privacy policy that links all the company's services under a single policy has come under fire from French authorities and Australia's communications minister Stephen Conroy who called it "a bit creepy".

Some of the South African businesses that have adopted Google+ include Europecar SA with 8 807 followers and Woolworths (2 455).

In terms of popular personal profiles, photographer Johan Swanepoel has the most follows at 43 126, followed by Michiel de Lange and Dick Whitlock, both photographers.

"We're really trying to encourage people to have real conversations and only share things with people if they're actually interested in them," said Nolte.

She said that Google sees the internet as becoming more of a social network and the company has built platforms like Drive and Docs that allow collaboration across the web.

Hangouts

"Google+ is more than a social network - that's not our main aim here. The web has become increasingly social and the future of the internet is social.

"We actually talk about upgrading to Google+ as opposed to joining Google+ and the reason for that is that the social element is going to be part of all our products," Nolte said.

The Hangouts built into Google+ has allowed users to broadcast video and as more users turn to the internet for content, traditional broadcasters may find the need to adapt their strategy to the new medium.

A survey by Pew Research Centre's Project for Excellence in Journalism study found in July that viewers are increasingly turning to YouTube as a source for news and a Riverbed Technology survey found that a third of Europeans will watch the London 2012 Olympics online.


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