Google+ has topped the American Consumer Satisfaction Index's 2017 list evaluating how users feel about Internet social media companies.
We'll let that sink in for another moment.
The results come from the ACSI's survey of 4,978 consumers, who responded over email. For those who don't remember the social network or didn't think it was still around, Google+ was Google's largely failed attempt to answer the rise of Facebook and Twitter. It launched in 2011, with a model that lets you create “circles” of friends with whom you could share different information.
It didn't take off for many reasons, including: its complexity, the fact that people were pretty set in their social media ways and Google's somewhat ham-handed attempts to require people to use it to comment on YouTube. Google eventually detangled many of its services, including YouTube and Google Accounts, from Google+, and it faded from the minds of most people who don't work at Google.
But Google+ did find footing with groups looking to make community pages, and now has an estimated 111 million users, according to Forbes — about one-third of Twitter, or 1/6 of Facebook. It's continued to work on the product for those customers. And that, at least in terms of customer satisfaction, seems to have paid off.
“Following the launch of new features and a redesign in January, Google+ posts a large gain, up 7% to 81,” the ACSI's report said.
Google+ is immediately followed in the rankings by Pinterest, Wikipedia, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and LinkedIn. (“All Others” collectively rank sixth, in case you're wondering where your favorite network is.)
It's safe to say that's not how many analysts, or even users, would rank those social networks in terms of their success.
But it could indicate that, the smaller or more specialized an audience, the more you can do to focus your network to fit. The survey credits Pinterest's high ranking, for example, to “increasing site efficiency and search technology” as well as moves to make it easier to shop directly from the site. Those all address major user criticisms the firm has faced in the past but that apply very specifically to its core users, of about 150 million.
For Facebook, the right path may not be as clear when looking for direction from 2 billion users.
The upshot of the report seems to be that if you want people to be happy on the Internet, you should go niche and really listen to your community. But that's not necessarily the road to broader success.
At least Google+ can throw the win in the face of those who've declared it dead several times. Just don't expect it to change much.