Searching for Pluses About Google+

Google+ (NASDAQ:GOOG) faces the time-honored problem of how to differentiate its offering from that of Facebook, the entrenched market leader in social networking.

And unless it steps out and really proclaims its USP, subscribers will continue to spend more time on Facebook than they do on Google+. “Nobody wants another social network right now,” said Brian Solis, an analyst at social-media advisory firm Altimeter Group. For those who already use Facebook, “Google hasn’t communicated what the value of Google+ is,” he said.

In fact, according to a comScore statistic, visitors using personal computers spend about three minutes a month on average on Google+, whereas they spend about six to seven hours each month on Facebook. That’s a big difference, and shows that though 90 million users have registered on Google+ since its launch in June, they are really not so active on the site.

Google has brushed away these concerns, saying that they have a long term perspective on the site, and that it was designed more as a “personal” SNS adjunct to its Gmail and YouTube services, rather than as a mainstream site to rival Facebook. Google has also said that the comScore data is at variance with its own data, which is much higher.

Be that as it may, some of Google+ partners are not exactly enamored with the slow activity on the site. “So far, Google+ is a nice platform but it’s been slow on the uptick with users right now,” said John Schappert, COO of Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA), which offers its games Cityville and Zynga Poker on Google+. Google+ “does not have the same degree of vibrancy that Facebook, Twitter or even Pinterest has at the moment,” said David Cohen, an executive vice president at media buying unit Universal McCann. “Without active engagement, it will not be as attractive to advertisers.” Intel Corp (NASDAQ:INTC), which set up a brand presence on the site, is not too happy either – activity on the company’s Google+ account is “not as great as we were hoping it was going to be.”

Here’s how Google is reacting to the info:

Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG): GOOG shares recently traded at $618.17, up $8.86, or 1.45%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $473.02 to $670.25. Volume today was 1,161,859 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 2,873,030 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 20.82, while trailing earnings are $29.76 per share.

Zynga, Inc. (NASDAQ:ZNGA): ZNGA shares recently traded at $13.42, up $0.18, or 1.36%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $7.97 to $14.55. Volume today was 1,610,764 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 13,424,500 shares. The company’s trailing earnings are $-1.40 per share.

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC): INTC shares recently traded at $27.24, up $0.35, or 1.3%. They have traded in a 52-week range of $19.16 to $27.50. Volume today was 10,609,452 shares versus a 3-month average volume of 47,956,400 shares. The company’s trailing P/E is 11.40, while trailing earnings are $2.39 per share.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Capel at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com