Why Google+ Is 100x More Effective In Generating Comments Than Twitter

How Google Plus won out in an experiment of competing social networks.
Chief Evangelist, Canva
July 20, 2011

During a demo to the Orange County chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, I lived dangerously by conducting an experiment. I posted the picture you see below with this text “I will give a copy of Enchantment to the first person who figures out what this picture symbolizes…ie, a word game.” to four services:

I made the posts at 8:16 p.m. Pacific on Thursday, July 14th. At the time, the accounts had these amounts of followers and garnerned these amounts of comments in three hours:

  • Twitter: 377,748 followers; 45 comments
  • Facebook fan page, Guy Kawasaki: 54,884 followers; 97 comments
  • Facebook fan page, Enchantment: 26,971 fans; 94 comments
  • Google+: 10,000 followers (near as I can guess—Google+ is a little sketchy about numbers); 105 comments

I’m not a scientist or statistician, but I tried to control as many variables as possible: almost identical text (the tweet had slightly less text to fit the 140-character limit), same time and same picture. My methodology isn’t pure, but I’m not trying to be a scientist. I’m just a marketing guy trying to figure out if Google+ is a useful platform.

One data point is to calculate the ratio of the number of followers per comment, by dividing the number of followers by the number of comments:

  • Twitter: 8,394 followers/comment
  • Facebook: 566 followers/comment
  • Facebook: 287 followers/comment
  • Google+: 95 followers/comment

It sure looks like Google+ followers generate far more comments than Twitter or Facebook. I can think of several reasons for this:

  • Current Google+ members are geeks who are most likely to know me and comment on my posts. If/when Google+ reaches mainstream users, then the ratio of followers to comments will increase.
  • I behave differently on Google+ by providing more personal interaction, so this creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, and I get more comments on the service.
  • The number of followers/fans on the services are inaccurate.
  • Even if the number of users is accurate, someone who started following me on Twitter three years ago may be less likely to comment (for one thing, someone who followed me long ago may not even be active on the service anymore) than someone who just started following me on Google+ in the last two weeks.
  • Google+ fosters more engagement for whatever magical and unforeseen reason.

It’s not like you’re betting the farm on two guys/gals in a garage—it’s Google for crying out loud, so give Google+ a shot and see how it works for you. Early acceptance has been great, but this is the geek lunatic fringe. It’s not clear that Google+ will “cross the chasm” as Geoffrey Moore would say, but I’m a believer. You can follow me here. It’s where you will find my most personal, handcrafted social-media efforts. And by the way, the response I was looking for the picture was Holy (cross) Shiitake (mushrooms). Get it?

Chief Evangelist, Canva