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Google+ traffic grew by 480% in one month, so press reports a 60% decline. Wait, what?!

Have you seen the stories lately that Google+ traffic dropped by 60%?

This figure represents not the decline of Google+, but the decline of newspaper trustworthiness. Here's what happened.

Google+ was invite only. On the day they opened the floodgates to the public, traffic immediately spiked by 1,200%. These new people were mostly enthusiastic new users. But a minority was tire-kickers who didn't stick around.

When the dust cleared, total traffic was nearly five times higher than before the doors opened. But the Sunday Mail reported it as a 60% drop from the peak on day one of public beta.

Their idiotic, misleading headline: "Traffic plunges for Google+ as 60% of users log off"

The accurate headline they should have used: "Traffic increases fivefold as Google+ opens to public"
andy gowrley's profile photomilton venancio's profile photoChristian Zavrtak's profile photoPatrick Chua's profile photo
Really odd reporting. What's your theory: dishonesty or ignorance?
That misleading story will be reprinted and syndicated all over the world and taken as gospel.
+Mike Elgan Yah, just read another about sharing on G+ Decreasing hugely. This thing is exploding IMO. Everytime I'm on here my dash is flooded.
I suspect its again anti Google marketing campaign by competitor LOL.
David Holt
87% of people don't know how to use statistics. 13% know how to selectively use statistics to get their point across.
Absolute tosh, the traffic here has gradually increased since day one.
That's an abuse of statistics, which is unfortunately fairly common these days.
It garners more readers to go negative. Also the likely hood of any social effort failing is much higher so why not be conservative and yes ignorant. (0% of the time they will be right in 3 years...
I got no data to say something... If you say this And your sources Are ok then It's a shame!
The way I see it is that journalists now have an end they want to achieve and then write the story to fit that ending whether it is true or not.
What the world has not realized yet is the Google + combined what is best about Facebook, Twitter and SKYPE altogether for our enjoyment. They have single handedly ripped billions off Facebook's valuation.

These facts scare people. Just because you don't believe the metrics and numbers doesn't mean they're not true!

Let the truth set you free.
Whoa, Mike. You make the assertion about " the decline of newspaper trustworthiness" based on one headline in one newspaper?
Oh wow. That changes the whole deal! Makes a lot more sense. Thanks for clarification.
This in combination with the lack of real coverage on all the protests happening, the corruption with Murdoch...I think that we should support more independent reporters to do in depth investigative journalism and get rid of huge news corps that show time and time again how they can be bought.

Do you think there's any influence from Fb funded marketing companies on the journalism or it's just to get a rise of some kind +Mike Elgan ?
+Mike Elgan The data in question is suspect as no hard data is shown nor they are saying on how many users the report is based on or how they were able to measure traffic at all. Chitikta is a Google competitor of sorts their business is ads and they do have a strong partnerships with Facebook ...
Certainly the Daily Mail, being very very conservative, hates social media. It likes to run scare stories on how Facebook is turning our kids violent/putting them on drugs/exposing them to pedophiles/making them eat halal meat. Most right-minded people in the UK ignore its drivel.
+Mike Elgan Totally agree. First thing I heard on NYC news this am was Google+ in trouble. Neglecting 1200% increase at the end of Sept when the service opened. I felt like calling the station and setting them straight.
I think the bad press is beneficial, if someone is so swayed by some bunk article on G+ so be it, let em use FB. The more free, thoughtful, and educated thinkers the better. I like the rate at which the G+ community is growing and the amazingly interesting and talented user base making it grow.
For this reason, I have stopped paying attention to these articles/news bites. These writers seek to get immediate traffic by trying to post something "sensational" which turns out to be rubbish.
just pure and simple fear, uncertainty and doubt
The media wants one company to sell their papers, music and magazines (Apple) and one company to provide contact with their users (Facebook). If anyone disturbs that plan, they must die
I've had no faith in our media for a long time. It's sickening to me to find out about major events through someone's blog and then have to look it up on foreign media to hear what our media should be reporting instead of how some celebrity had a "wardrobe" malfunction or something frivolous like like.
Well, +Howard Weaver , things may be different in Alaska but I don't think Mike was using this one data point to draw any conclusions - simply to exemplify a trend supported by several years of recent history. No, of course not ALL newspapers are 'untrustworthy' - but a lot of the well-known ones seem to be. (Nope, I have no data - this is purely subjective opinion based on admittedly selective personal experience - as a frustrated news-seeker, not as a scientist!)
Paul Brocklehurst: I would not say that the Daily Mail hates social media. They are definitely conservative but they were one of the first newspaper groups in the English speaking world to navigate the move from traditional newspaper publishing to a digital world effectively and with rich video as well.
decline of newspaper trustworthiness? That's just not possible!
I don't see whose interests are served with media coverage like this. I'm not saying it's an accurate summation of a 60% decline, but I'm compelled to ask the question: why?

Did fellow Australian, Rupert Murdoch recently buy a majority share of Facebook while I was sleeping?
Or the Dailyfail as a lot of us Limeys know it as :)
btw, thank you +Mike Elgan for being such a great G+er, you have my vote for MVP of G+ (and Twit for that matter)
Just reading the results roll in, this doesn't feel like failure, surely failure is "hello....anybody there?"
Unless some plausible motive for dishonesty is shown, I'm perfectly willing to attribute this to ignorance. (Of course being TRUSTWORTHY requires both honesty and knowledge.)
Get this post onto

This a PR move, these "news stories" always occur just before a big release, twice they happened before a Google release now evidently it's the Facebook mobile announcements they are preceding.
"Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see." Or, read, to make it fit. This kind of gross reporting error happens more often than not. Statistics are some of the easiest things to write stories for, and even after that are still misconstrued. In psychology, for example, when conducting an experiement and reporting your findings, it is very important to be descriptive with your statistical information. Companies, with a $$$ bottom line, extrapolate what suits their needs and feed us what they want us to "eat".

What the companies like Forbes get out of whipping the numbers like this is beyond me. I don't see any gains, other than traffic for their website if we happen to click on the link. They should know that the majority of us just blurt out whatever bullet news we read, lol. They should also know that 83% of all statistics are made up on the spot... ;-)
The biggest knock on G+ these days (aside from the 'real name' fiasco that honestly probably didn't effect more than 10-20% of users) is that 'there's no activity' or 'my friends aren't on it. Well, way back when, that was a problem with Facebook too. I remember joining Facebook at some point years ago, thinking it was absolutely boring, and then jumping back onto MySpace - where all my friends were. A few years later I got sick of MySpace and re-visited Facebook. I found Facebook to be much cleaner and easier to use. Soon after many of my friends joined and then eventually the vast majority of my friends and family. So to write off G+, or give it a premature obit is silly.
Thanks for clarifying +Mike Elgan, I did read that usage drop statistic and couldn't understand what the F they were talking about. As I have been using G+ since it was invitation only, I can assert things are getting more interesting on a daily basis. More users, more info, more and more interesting shares. One can only guess what were the reasons for such misleading statement if not pure ignorance. Puking numbers like these just for the sake of being notorious, without getting their facts straight will ultimately affect their credibility. We're not stupid you know?
I find most statistic information is only as reliable as the statistic taker.
This is the type of statistic and reporting that drives me mad....I agree...DailyFail...
+Tony Bryson From what I remember Facebook has pretty strict definitions on what an 'active user' is. They've long past the point of needing to play with the numbers...
+Jay Acunzo refers to these types of people as "Plussimists" (Google Plus pessimists)... always eager to place G+ in a pejorative light despite all the facts that point to the contrary.
I think G+ is exploding more than any other social network ever has. On Facebook, my photography page has just 122 likes in over a year since I launched it. My twitter account has 750 followers in over two years and 3700 tweets. In Google+, I've been circled by over 3000 people in just over three months! Incredible! More and more people are engaging with me, too many for me to check out right away, but Google+ is exploding, not imploding.
The other question is: Are they counting only public posts? Some people are super active but rarely or never use public posts.
Mike, they count whatever will give them the result they want
One signal that I would use to help measure the growth would be the daily sign-ups. Many social sites track and report the number of registered users, and they also track the number of new users who sign-up daily to help analyze growth and demand. If Google started putting out numbers on the actual daily users and the number of new users each day, we would be able to compare this growth with side-by-side data of both the current status of the other social networks as well as with the start-up growth for them to really see how Google+ is stacking up in the social wars.
Thanks for pointing out the truth. I fell into the headline reading trap...
Claes Oldenburg!!!
I got to see him and Frank Gehry on a panel at MOCA a few years back.
I was in heaven.
Tom Lee
Makes me think twice reading the stupid news out there. I feel I am more informed than those knucklehead media writers. A lot of people are so impatient, expecting Google, an internet giant, is capable of shooting the users base to stratosphere of 500 million users in 5 weeks. That is not the case. G+ is treated like a start up. I'd give them time to grow. 50 million users in a couple of months is not too shabby. This growth rate certainly makes FB and Twitter wetting their pants. I wouldn't be surprised that these media guys are in bed with FB for the money. FB people did that before to Google and was caught with their pants down.
Doesn't msn have over a billion? I'm not sure these "membership" figures mean anything really.
has the media company printed a retraction or apology yet? that's astounding.
Do all of us care about that report? We all know that there are more people following us before it was open to the public. The author just want to increase traffic in his site by showing a controversial but error filled assessment of G+. 
Facebook must be happy about the press combined with the release of their iPad app! Just another touché in the G+/FB war.
+Tony Bryson I merely requested a source, same as I provided to you. I'm not after an 'Internet fight' but you are reluctant to discuss other than saying "google it". Go on, give me one story you regard as a good example of Facebook fudging their user numbers..with a link and everything
Welcome to the race for Internet Stardom and page views which pay the bills... This is how the laws of attraction work, accuracy of reporting does not matter much, as long as the story is playing against what people want to hear...
+Paul Brocklehurst The 750 million is a nonsense. Utter utter nonsense, I know people who have more than one account, indeed I know people who have over 10'000 accounts :3
+Steven G how is that Facebook's fault? Maybe they should report it as active accounts rather than users, granted, but that doesn't mean they're getting the number of those 'active' accounts wrong. It all seems to be a bit "Facebook are untrustworthy, so if they say they launched in 2004 I won't believe them"
+Paul Brocklehurst Because Facebook know about them. Also they count deactivated accounts as part of the 750million as well.
Amazing pal... indeed this is not news, people are looking to find the bad... G+ have a long way to go, open it's API, have pages for business etc... it will go up and down in traffic... i don't think the trafic matters that much... G+ will build itself over time... win some lose some but in a few months from now all of this won't matter, since if it will roll out like planeed, it's going to be HUGE... i hope :) thx for sharing this clarification. Sharel
Soundbyte world we live in Mike. If you don't grab a reader by the short and curlies, you've lost them...
Thanks for pointing this out. Sadly some people will never read beyond the headline and make assumptions based on it.
Very true Kyle. I've seen it so many times, on Facebook, where people responding to a post in which an article is linked to have only read the byline grab, and make false assumptions and judgement based upon the few words they have read, and not the full story.
google + asside, how did that big red and blue wheel structure get from outside the Aria in las vegas to the midel of that park?
Google bashers... anything to rain on some's parade /~:
+Mike Elgan, you might want to cite Forbes as the source of the 4.8x growth statistic you mention. People like +Sherilynn Macale are apparently commenting before actually reading the articles you link to -- wrongly implying Forbes repeated the 60% traffic number whereas it appears to be the source of your mythbusting.
+Sherilynn Macale Your comment suggests to me that that if a person doesn't read both articles, it appears that Forbes is the source of the misleading statistic and not the source doing the mythbusting ("Leave it to Forbes. Seriously. First Paul Tassi, now this? They're doing it on purpose."). I'm a Forbes employee, so I'm biased, but I read Mike a lot and I'm sure he would want amplify his citation knowing the confusion he is causing.
You know what would be really nice? Google should just come out and publish some real numbers. How many members. How much traffic. Give us the history of G+ growth.
The quality of interaction, and the depth of discussion and considered responses far surpasses FB: to start off with, quality over quantity, but as numbers grow, one hopes that the quality is maintained and the engagement continues to be at an informed level. Matt.
Forbes must be an early investor in Facebook. Only explanation.
+Mike Elgan Would love to see some legit stats. Have you asked for them? In the meantime, can you please update the post with more clear attribution? Look at +Allan Petersen's latest comment for an example of the confusion this post is causing.
Tom Lee
+Mike Elgan Did FB ever come out publishing their real numbers, such as how many active users out of 700 millions, how many people with multiple accounts, how many deleted accts that never been deleted and are still counted. I am just curious. I haven't followed FB activities since I left it 3 years ago. Can you shed some lights? it would be nice to know.
An incendiary headline aimed at getting clickthroughs. This happens so often. Not an "SEO bait" post, but one meant to get eyeballs on the page. Unfortunately our "shock and awe" culture perpetuates this. Also...shoddy mathematics :-)
Sad but not surprising, since 83% of all statistics are misleading or totally made up anyway!
That's what is called media bias!
Main stream media getting the story wrong again, what a surprise. Give G+ a few years and they will be reporting a much different story. ;-)
These statistic reports are written by people who lack noise in their stream. Therefore, write according to their own opinions of Google+ and not on the real facts.
i Cjay
I say good, lets keep Google Plus Leet.
For those asking if that kind of reportage has any malice behind it, allow me to share a quote: "ascribe not to malice what can be explained by stupidity."
83.65% of all statistics are pulled from somebody's arse.
The daily mail isn't a news paper that can be taken seriously. Recently their website posted new that Amanda Knox had been found guilty of murder when that wasn't the case. The newspaper is often ridiculed in the UK for scaremongering and spreading FUD.
Those in the tech industry are now understanding what those in teaching and those in science have felt for decades.
It's too bad there isn't a G+ app on Facebook, it could download everything from your account, and let you continue interacting with your friends on Facebook while finding new people on G+.
They also called Eric Schmidt CEO of Google, which hasn't been true for months now.
I wonder if tech-journalists for newspapers actually know anything about tech. I can imagine that the conversation goes something like this:

Editor: "we need someone to write an article about this Google+ thing..."
Secreatary: "my 12 year old has a Facebook account"
Editor: "Great! That makes her an expert in my book - have her write the article and give her a cookie"....
Wow, off topic, but that wheel eraser brings back some memories! I totally forgot about those things!
A wheel eraser! Do people still use those?
Are you surprised? Really? Why should reporters be more accurate on tech than they are on stuff like politics etc? Most reporters are like taxi drivers, the customer sits on their car, he names a destination, and that's where the reporter drives to... NOTE, I said most
+Joel Krugler - "never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity"
The important thing is not how many people there are, but how many people make use of it. We are all in Google Buzz but nobody really uses it.
Beginning of Google plus has had an advantage over the beginning of Facebook because of advertising on Google search engine first page.
+Mike Elgan Predicting the imminent demise of G+ has become a literary genre all in itself. That much is clear to all. But why do you think all these media outlets (mis)report the facts in the way they do?
This is absolutely and utterly rubbish....Google plus only gets bigger by the day!
Hi Guys. Sorry but it's 120 %, not 1200 % ! Or +120 % and -60 % is not good !
it was in the Daily wail (Mail) its a tabloid for those who think they are to posh for tabloids..
Facebook bought forbes by any chance? ;-)
Fritz Greenbaum comes to my mind with his quote from 1930:

"Man kann wenn sie Bericht erstatten, genau wer sie besticht, erraten." (You can guess who bribes the press from the way they report.)
It is really funny how they devaluate something just because some people tend to not see the usefulness of something, then just bashes it for the sake of favoring something they already are familiar with. Wrap it up people, google+ has value, and only educated ones harness it.
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