Forcing users to sign up to Google+ boosts visits, surprisingly

As Google fights ever harder to crack social media, it seems it might be playing a little bit dirty. The Wall Street Journal reports it is forcing people who use Google services, from  YouTube to Zagat, to sign up for Google+.

For example, those wishing to post reviews on Google owned services are required to sign in to Google+. Additionally, Google+ profiles are now appearing more and more in search. It all all allows Google to blend more data about a user together, remember you have to use your real name on Google+, giving them a more powerful sell to advertisers.

The Wall Street Journal also report that “the impetus comes from the top. Google Chief Executive Larry Page has sought more aggressive measures to get people to use Google+.”

It seems to be working too. In December 235 million people used Google+ features. Furthermore, Mashable report that, Google+ now has 105 million unique monthly visitors globally. The figures are from October last year, and are a rise of over 60% from 2011, when the service had 65.3 million unique visitors. Although this is undoubtedly positive for Google, and its social network, it pales into insignificance to the 822.1 million unique visits Facebook got. Twitter  too has almost double the unique monthly visitors of Google+ with  182.9 million.

Despite the growth of Google’s Android mobile operating system, a prime integration point you might think, Facebook is still massively ahead.  It had 91.3 million unique visitors via mobile in the US, while Google+ only had 7 million. Indeed, on mobile Google+ trails behind Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Tubmlr. UK figures were not published, but the Google+ would be significantly lower.

The truth while Google is integrated into many people’s lives via Gmail, search, and YouTube, they feel that they actually don’t require another social network. Furthermore, for many circles seems a bit convoluted, and the celebrity content is the same as they could get on Twitter. While I like Google+ very much (easier to control than Facebook, more room to explain yourself than Twitter,) it clearly is still lacking.

Hardball tactics are unlikely to help build the dedicated, longterm user base that both advertisers and communities want..