Google Plus's popularity is murky. Google reports that the service has 540 million active users, making it the second largest social network after Facebook by some counts. But given how Google pressures people into connecting all of their accounts, it seems likely that many of these users are really just interested in YouTube or other Google services. A recent New York Times article even opened with the observation that "Google Plus, the company’s social network, is like a ghost town."
Perhaps to reassure its users that there are actually people on the site, a new Google Plus update lets you see how many times content on your profile has been viewed since October 2012. And the numbers seem pretty big!
But what's a lot over the past year and a half? We need a sense of scale. My Google Plus has been viewed 5,500 times. And I never use Google Plus. So I'm really popular right? Ehhh. Slate political reporter David Weigel's Google Plus has 54,300 views. Slate's own page has almost 9.3 million views. And Google's has 1.5 billion.
So what are these traffic gauges for? Maybe like friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter, Google wants to make views a shorthand for popularity (since Google Plus followers clearly haven't been generating much cache). And "views" resonate with the scramble for page views in online media. So will this change anything? Maybe if you start posting more on Google Plus more people will look at what you're doing! And then you'll get more views! And then! Wait ... what then? Yeah, probably nothing.