Why journalists call Google+ a "ghost town"
(Keep in mind I use Google+ all the time and it's my favorite social network. If anything, I'm biased for Google+, but I'm not blind.)

I kind-of like where this article (http://www.amandablain.com/google-plus-ghost-town) is coming from (data!) but I think the argument is flawed. The truth is journalists don't have to use Google+ to know how popular it is. 

Everyone who writes stuff on the internet has access to some kind of extremely-detailed traffic analytics system. It's very easy for them to see post traffic from G+, Facebook, and Twitter, and the bottom line is, referrals from Google+ suck.

You want actual data? Sure. Let's look at some data. Ars has a relatively even presence on each social networks—automated posts go up on all 3 shortly after a post is made. Let's pick a relatively neutral story, like this heartbleed article from the other day (ars.to/1igvx62 ).

Twitter accounted for 49% of all social referrals.
Facebook accounted for 41% of all social referrals.
Google+ accounted for 5% of all social referrals.

This is what the numbers for most posts look like. This is where "Ghost town" comes from.

Let's pick another story type—one that all journalists dream of—a viral story. We'll use this article about hacking Steam sales data (ars.to/1i9eMts ). 

Social referrals:
Facebook: 63%
Twitter: 28%
StumbleUpon: 7%
Google+: 1%

StumbleUpon drove x7 more traffic than Google+. GHOST TOWN. 

Both of these are typical traffic examples. Ars has more followers on G+ (803k) than it does on Twitter (666k) or Facebook (194k), but the traffic just isn't there. For the month, G+ is 4% of social clicks. These are the facts. I'm sorry.

Yes, article traffic is not the total measurement of a social network, but it's a big one and it's the one we have very accurate, independent data for. Most of the Ars writers don't have active G+ pages, but they don't have public Facebook pages either, so those two are a fair comparison (journalists LOVE twitter for some reason).

Want the "Ghost Town" label to go away? Raiding the comments section and berating the author won't help. Repeating the "300 million active users—more than Twitter!" claim won't help. Journalists have hard traffic numbers that show them the truth. You've got to start clicking on and sharing stuff 10 times more than you are now. Then and only then will the "Ghost town" label go away.

Signed, 
A Ghost <3
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