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What is the new social media ghost town?

OK, let me get this straight.

Since July of last year:

I've gone from 0 to 1.5 million followers here.

On Facebook at I've gone from 13,000 to 261,000 followers.

Yet on Twitter at I've gone from 240,000 to 260,000 followers.

I'm also getting more engagement on both Facebook and Google+.

Yet Google+ is derided in the tech press as a "ghost town." I think the data is starting to show that this is unfair and, well, simply wrong.

So, what's the new social media ghost town? I say it's Twitter. Follower growth has NOT kept up there with the other services, which is telling me something.

What is it telling me?

1. That while number of tweets have gone up, people are getting overloaded so they aren't following more people. Why is that? Because there isn't any noise controls on Twitter (Facebook's feed, on my screens, is a LOT more useful than Twitter's feeds).

2. I'm on Google+'s suggested user list, which is gifting me a huge number of followers. But I got up to 230,000 without ever being on that list here. Lots of people are signing up and at least a few ARE sticking around here.

3. Over on Facebook there are ways to get spread around more, and juice its suggested user feature (this is one thing Facebook does better than Twitter or Google+ since this list is algorithmic and doesn't show a single same list to every user), which gets you more users.

4. Facebook juices its subscriber numbers through lists. If you get put on a list with, say, 30,000 followers, all those followers will be added to your follower count.

Seriously, I know Twitter's not a ghost town, but it sure feels like that because of the usage model there. As it has turned into more of an "information utility" and less of a community it feels more and more empty.

A few other things?

I really hate Twitter's list limitations. On Twitter you can only put 500 people on a list. No such limitation exists here on Google+ or on Facebook. Also, on Twitter you can only have 20 lists per account. No such limitation exists here on Google+ or on Facebook. I don't get why they don't fix this, especially given that they say Twitter is an information utility.

Over on Facebook I'm really liking the ticker, which isn't yet integrated into its mobile apps. But these "attention signals" which show what your friends are listening to, reading, liking, eating, etc, are more useful to me than Twitter's tweet stream, especially when you consider that they aren't part of the feed, which means the feed has a lot less noise (over on Twitter I just saw Steve Wozniak check in on Foursquare, which is totally noise to me and is the kind of stuff I no longer see on my Facebook feed).

Finally, if you look at Flipboard and other readers like Zite, and Pulse, I am starting to like Facebook's display a lot more on those. Why? Because Facebook gives more signals through its comments and its noise filtering (which Flipboard then augments with its own round of noise filtering). I expect that when Google+ gets a real API and developer support (I expect that will come in late June at the Google IO conference) that it'll be the same.

This is a long way of saying: am I reading these signals right?

Is Facebook and Google+ going up in your world and Twitter staying flat or going down, especially when you consider time spent on each actually reading other people's content?
Sascha Pallenberg's profile photoJeff Sullivan's profile photoDIanne pino's profile photoAndrij “Andrew” Harasewych's profile photo
Twitter has just become too noisy, and the tools available to trim it down go against the point of the thing (what's the point of following 1000 people on Twitter if you are going to just read from a list of 10?) The advantage I see is that it's low commitment from a business/follower generating POV, I can set up an RSS feed to dump to it with very little effort and it slowly (for me anyway) continues to pull in more eyeballs.
I think so, and I've said for a while now (to friends and colleagues) that I think Google+ is going to eat Twitter's lunch a lot quicker than it will make a dent in Facebook. The engagement here is better than on Twitter, but the usage of Plus is in some ways very similar. I have about 4-5 people I actually follow on twitter that aren't here on G+ yet, but otherwise it's completely replaced Twitter. Facebook still has family/friends instead of communities.
Twitter for me: relatively stagnant, despite posting as much or more there than here on G+.
G+: way more interaction, and useful interaction, than on Twitter.
Facebook: not in my workflow.
Although I am on both FB and Google+ I chose to let Twitter go and primarily use G+. Twitter was much easier to cut àway from than the other two.
Aaaand now that I've responded to a #Scoble post, my notifications are going to go bonzo again... (speaking of filters +Robert Scoble :D)
I don't think Twitter is necessarily on its way out and, of course, some folks say the same thing about Google+ when it comes to engagement (though that's clearly NOT your experience.) But I have to say Twitter is a lot noisier than it used to be, which makes it harder to be heard.
I think that G+ suffers to some extent from lack of controls / filters similar to Twitter. The volume slider is nice and is a great start, but there is a ways to go. While I understand the FB auto-filter and it's purpose, I wish I understood the algorithm more and / or had more control over what I see and don't see.
I really would love to see groups over on Google+ with some better noise filters... the king of filters is being out done by Facebook in that department.
I completely agree with you. I have found that I rarely ever visit Twitter anymore since the engagement level there is so low. As a photographer I have come to love the way G+ has allowed for a better way of filtering content, posts, and photos to those that are interested in seeing them and will comment on them. I no longer feel like I am throwing a piece of paper in the air and hoping it lands so someone will read it.
If there's too much "noise" on Twitter, your control is to unfollow the people who are generating the noise.
I like this point: "Because there isn't any noise controls on Twitter (Facebook's feed, on my screens, is a LOT more useful than Twitter's feeds)." Agree entirely.

To add to your point, I think one of the main reasons Twitter is "the new ghost town" is because it's, quite simply, hard to grasp, initially. Admittedly, I could be entirely wrong.
I agree. I've posted the same thing across all three and I never get the kind of engagement on Twitter that I do on Google+. It's not just about the number of followers. G+ and FB just encourage a higher level of interaction. If Twitter wasn't the only way I had to interact with certain people I wouldn't even bother.
I think you're right about this +Robert Scoble. The Twitter streams are very noisy, and there isn't much that Twitter has done to remedy that.

There's also a marked lack of interchange on twitter. It's like people forgot the @ sign between posting their latest dead on arrival blog post.

Or maybe I just need to prune my followings. LOL!
Twitter is described as a social network, but I don't really find it to be social at all. I'd describe it as a broadcasting service. However, I could just be using it wrong, or maybe I'm not the right kind of person to even be using it at all. Of late I have been finding myself spending more time here on G+, less on FB, and rarely checking Twitter. The engagement I find with strangers here is much better than almost anything I've found on FB. Just my 2 cents worth.
The criticism of Twitter that resonates the most with me is that I'm really sick of running up against Twitter's limit of 500 users per list. I use the list feature on Twitter, but it's limiting if I can't go beyond that.
+Robert Scoble I'm not sure Twitter is "social" you say, it's more of a constant feed of info - it's a great searchable resource and a "goto" place to find breaking news but it's too much overload to be truly social - there is little interaction, there is little that is discursive or interactive and it's too limiting. But I dont ever think Twitter was meant to be a social platform of the ilk of FB or G+, it's more a soapbox shout out to the aether... a multicast at best.
Interesting observation +Robert Scoble, Twitter has never hit the big time here in NZ and it always puzzled me as to where they were taking it long term.

When G+ came out I saw it as a nice blend between Twitter and Facebook. Twitter's limitations don't really add anything, and really are starting to take away from the experience...
One thing I noticed a lot more about Facebook's news feed is it's really becoming more media enriched. e.g., more pictures, videos, etc. which is very interesting to me since that's my primary focus with the website I've been building and which in turn will pump data back into Facebook.
Vernon R
Google+ will really explode if Google opens up the APIs. Twitter has become overloaded
Also, I think a lot of people are afraid to voice their true selves on Twitter because Twitter's totality is public. And G+ has Circles...
Follower growth is greatly inflated by circle sharing Imho. I was surprised to find a flood of "xyz had added you to circles " notifications, but apparently it was a popular self promoting person who somehow added me to one of their large tech/coding circles, then shared it with their followers.

People are hoarders by nature, so when someone shares a circle most people can't resist clicking Add, to be checked out later.

+Robert Scoble I love Woz, but he's clearly using Twitter wrong. His feed is almost totally Foursquare check ins.
I find that I engage with people more on Google+. It might be because Facebook, for me, is mostly obligatory follows (family, etc.) that don't necessarily share the same interests and Twitter is becoming filled with noise that I can't sort through quickly anymore. On Google+ I can group people into Circles and browse the streams based on what I'm interested in hearing. I enjoy Google+ the most.
One question +Robert Scoble which social network do you feel gets a better response from the subscribers? I would love to do an experiment with someone like you or simular folks in which a posting is shared and it's measures for interacts by followers or retweet/sharing by followers.
I find Twitter feels antiquated these days. They've been around long enough to have implemented countless ways to customize how you want your information. Instead I find myself looking at third party programs to organize lists and to do things I want.
I'm a writer and a concert photographer. I should have more than one account, one for my writing contacts and one for my concert photography contacts. But I don't WANT to have multiple accounts for each facet of my life and I don't want to spam editors with country music artist pictures.
Please Twitter, let me tweet things to certain lists. Let me have public tweets AND private tweets. I want to be able to get drunk and leave a trail of obnoxious tweets that only my real friends can read and laugh at.
+Robert Scoble I really see value in this real-time interaction forum that Google+ provides. It really gives me an interesting idea that I would love to develop once I get my website done.
I much prefer Twitter. It is more interactive IMHO. I find that people here don't interact as much as on Twitter. And I find Facebook boring :)
Robert, for you the key assumption may be that more is better. Personally, I come to social media for good conversations, not to become some sort of new mass media station. I still have the highest quality conversations with the highest quality people I know on Twitter.
You're really basing the effectiveness of a social network on Klout and follower numbers, +Robert Scoble? Didn't we fight that battle back in '06?
Also think the rapid growth may be fueled by the fact that many of who became familiar with you on twitter quickly came online on FB and bright along some of connections in doing so...?
+Robert Scoble Yes but Twitter will still live on to drive traffic to other places. Try it out Robert - remove your cross links to Twitter and only post to G+ or FB and no broadcasts - see how your traffic reduces. I think the value of twitter is the advertising via tweets that content exists somewhere else and it is a quick means to drive up readership elsewhere.
+Dora Maus Twitter is a social network in which people follow others with simular interest.
Great post Rob and very timely given what my new start-up is doing. Looking forward to show you early July.. :-)
+Robert Scoble I agree, the UX designs on Facebook are lacking for those not so technical. The default function of the <enter> key aims to encourage people to quickly interact.

Twitter really needs a better conversation channel. I feel the less folks interface with me on Twitter the less I share on it.
It seems that in a few years people may realize that having as many as 4 or 5 different social network accounts is ridiculous. To date I have a facebook, g+, tumblr, and a twitter (finally drank the kool-aid); and each one has unique features that differentiate it from the others. I wrote a blog post about this a while back ( But simply put, no one social network can completely replicate what I get from the others. Eventually though, those separate network will likely become more and more redundant. The internet without social networking, a decade ago, seems ridiculous. In another ten years, having four different social networking accounts that satisfy the same fundamental goal of sharing may also seem ridiculous. It seems to me that this trend is what google+ has going for it right now. Between its built in features and integration with other google services, G+ has the most potential (but probably not the best chance) to become a one stop shop for social networking.
I still <3 Twitter the best. Just ask Merlin Mann why he uses it so much?
I don't know who's up or down. It seems to me that all three are more broadcast than they are social and not without reason, since one can only process so much data. It works well for some but not all. Twitter is probably down because it's not as engaging as FB and G+ so they get more from energy/time expended. People will naturally follow Trey Ratcliff and Scott Kelby because there is a higher rate of return. For the average Joe the experience is very different, following more than follow back. Those who gain the most are those work hard and or already have a following. 
Twitter is the most easily replaced of the three, in terms of the others can accommodate what Twitter does while the reverse is not true...
One thing I appreciate about Twitter is how flat it is - much more likely to be able to approach someone you don't know. But my usage is down to occasional checking - though I did find this discussion. ;-)
Guess it all depends on what "cocktail parties" you go to +Robert Scoble. Here in the flyover states of the Greater Carolinas, we like to talk about conversations and collaborations and not just answers :)
+Michael Kaplan The more I see this streaming feature on Google+ the more I'm really enjoying it for a knowledge network. There really needs to be a platform for people like +Robert Scoble to interact with people in a very controlled and manageable fashion. This on Twitter results in so much noise in your friends timeline. That's why Twitter needs to reconstruct how their users interface in a dialog.
That is the main benefit of Twitter for me, but they seem to have done a poor job of building on the platform and enabling both conversational streams and pulling out historical posts/i.e. search. I understood their religious focus early on on not building out functionality, but I think they seem to be a little behind on evolving their product. However the main attraction still seems to be ease of consumption due to the 140 character limit. Not sure how defensible that is going forward though.... see Moped !
I am having a very similar experience with my Twitter account. Not getting the same levels of engagement as I used to.
I am confuzzled. Hasnt Twitter been dead ever since Minaj started using it to talk about where she got her hair did? Ashton telling people where he was about to eat? Beyonce chatting up her baby happiness. Twitter is opium for the sheeple . Its white noise to anyone else that does not have a vested interest in its workings, like all of you here. Facebook is learning, its adapting. Sure, it stumbles, but it is going to find a groove. Google+ is a happy medium for me. I have yet to completely understand its finer points.
The thing is G+ and FB facilitate discussions. Right now, Twitter is like to shout across the canyon: mostly conversations are just RTs.
Twitter is also perfect for mobile apps since it is built for quick updates on the go. As smart phones and mobile apps continue to grow in popularity, Twitter will surely benefit in users (though likely not engagement) from that mobile growth.
+Brian Arner your point is well taken about noise control options, but building a following is what the whole Twitter ecosystem seems to be about. And maybe that's the problem. On the other hand, +Robert Scoble may have a point that noise control is a non-issue. I guess if you're looking for a way to get a brief message to a large following, you're not really looking for a conversation anyway. So maybe people are expecting too much or the wrong thing out of Twitter?
I've always had this feeling that Twitter has a certain type of user and that those users are still there, consistently...kind of like the old friendfeed days. Seems like whatever can win with mobile will have the biggest impact on the masses. Tic toc!!
I find G+ has a great signal/noise ratio for things photocentric. I like that because I learn a lot from fellow photographers. 
Apart from proper hard returns, I like that you can make type bold and italic here!
Why is Robert Scoble always worried about which social networking service is "dead"? (Shout-out to my FriendFeed buddies)
No ghost town here, as evidenced in your numbers and the 80+ engagements above.
Do you think the increase in FB numbers is a result of your G+ interaction, +Robert Scoble ? What i mean is, do you think that people follow you on multiple platforms, and the increase in FB is because of your vocal evangelism for G+?
+Robert Scoble I think you are right about that. I did take part in a Twitter chat recently, which controls noise quite nicely. Anybody have any experience with this?
Different user demographic, robbie. People here want artistic stimulation, insight and information. People on facebook want to know what you had for dinner, what your dog is doing that makes him so cute and where you're headed out to tonight.
Need I point out that Twitter's DM function has been rendered worthless by spammish "thanks for following me" messages. That seems like a huge chunk of the platform to let go to the weeds and says something about their overall lack of progress.
You got tossed into a circle that everybody gets.... I think... Or, maybe I added you. Heck I cant remember.
I follow +Robert Scoble here not on fb, because for some reason I expect quality information and intelligence on G+ and somewhat 'soft' and more personal stuff on fb i.e. Facebook for family and G+ for work - not sure why…
Google+ has obviously gone way up for me. Facebook has gone down. Twitter has just changed--I am following more people than last year but engaging less. I think G+ has taken over Twitter's old role to me--following based on subject or interest--so I've allowed Twitter to become a dumping ground for following on impulse without vetting for quality.
+Robert Scoble yes i agree. i used twitter hevily the first month i joined. then i used it less... and less... and when i lost my ipod touch (still havent found it) i stopped completely. by then i was following about 1250 people. i already have a facebook, and i am starting to fade away from it too.
I charted out my engagement by hand... I get 5% on Facebook and Google+ (though to many more followers on G+) but only 0.81% engagement on Twitter.
Twitter is flatlining for me. I'm using G+, Pinterest, Linkedin, and my blog.
This is not a reality in Brazil. 
Healthy competition helps the end user experience. Thanks for the info, Robert.
Another thing I like about G+ is that you can edit your posts and comments, I don't think you can do that on Facebook…
I tried twitter to engage in meaningful conversation but I am bombarded with spam followers or DMs. I do enjoy g+ LinkedIn and quora. If quora is considered social media 
+Robert Scoble I've been advocating two things for Google+ that in my opinion could kill Twitter. Topical areas such as Reddit utilizes so those looking to discuss can meet up. Then, hashtag controls. Allow users to block hashtags like #bacon or #caturday and you'd see more Google+ use by people that currently use Twitter for breaking news. Thoughts? 
The problem is you always base these conclusions on your own experience. You are an outlier, I am an outlier, the average user doesn't experience Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, G+ the way that you do. I'm a power user of Twitter, I wish they had more than 20 lists and allowed more than 500 people to follow but I know I am an outlier and normal Twitter users don't care about this.

I have 100k+ followers here but I spend the majority of my time on Twitter. Why? Because that's where I get the best news feed. I'm an outlier, I am a news junkie.

The question is how do these social networks become many things to many different type of people without compromising their core competencies and turning off their core audience.
In some ways, the wide open nature of Twitter makes it a more useful service for research, since you can pretty much hear anything. Without needing to be "friends." that also make Twitter a faster source of breaking info, even if you don't have a lot of connections. But for random discovery, I prefer FB as well, particularly via Flipboard.
+Robert Scoble I would be perfectly willing to give Facebook more of a chance on the interest graph were it not for a few things.

First of all, Facebook is so cluttered and dense that I can't find a lot of the features I have looked for. It's there, but it takes some real digging and is easy to forget. There's plenty I wish Google would do with Circles, especially the truly shared, curated Circles you're getting at. But the G+ experience is built around that concept of "circles of interest", and I feel that has made it more usable to me. (I would say this was even more so the case pre-redesign, before circle streams were buried under a dropdown menu.) Sure, I know Facebook has subscriptions, and it has shared, curated interest lists... But it also has friends, and friend lists (many of which it decided for me, further cluttering up the sidebar) and groups and notes and apps and... yeah.

Second, I'm honestly somewhat afraid to use Facebook right now. I'm not talking about privacy, although that's a legitimate concern. I'm concerned that I don't know just how my activity is being shared to others--friends, family, coworkers, etc. I still don't have the Ticker, and last I checked, many of my friends don't have timeline. I'm pretty sure I've made my news reading activity private, and I don't think I'm spamming people with Spotify listens, etc. But there's no way for me to tell, because my Facebook is not their Facebook.

Honestly, because of this, I've turned down my Facebook usage considerably. I use it very passively anymore, only occasionally checking up on friends and family, and post the rare photo from my phone.
+Robert Scoble I'd never heard of the interest lists, but I think I've more or less relegated Facebook to the closet. I think it has something to do with what you mentioned about being overloaded. I can only devote so much time to social sites and out of the three you mentioned, I tend to have better conversations on Google+, as well as more access to material that I'm interested in.

That may be changing on FB, but in my head, FB was always for friends, family and colleagues that may or may not have the same interests as me. With Google+ I was able to more specifically focus on finding people that I cared to see updates from. It might not have anything to do with the platforms. Maybe I've just matured as a social media consumer and I set up my Google+ better than I did my FB. Maybe I could replicate the experience on Facebook if I took the time to.

Also, I never really took FB Search seriously.
Trust me, I've complained many times to Twitter about how they're ignoring the value of Lists. I know the value of them, but I doubt many people will spend the time that I do putting them together. They don't listen to me, they listen to their core audience, which I suppose is what they should be doing.

I could spend the same time I do on Facebook putting together lists but they won't be as valuable as the ones I create on Twitter because Facebook's use case is different. People don't have the same sense of immediacy there to push out information. Twitter is a instantaneous source of news and information. Again, I am an outlier and I realize that my preferred social network isn't going to be the same as someone else.

I talk to just as many folks as you do, and their answers are all over the map. Which leads me to believe one size does not fit all and the whole "Social Network A is better than B" is a ridiculous argument.
+Robert Scoble Another potential difference between FB lists and G+ circles: FB lists seem very top-down driven to me. I have only ever heard about lists from the superusers like you, Trey Ratcliffe, Tom Anderson, etc. I have never had a friend or family member or coworker share a FB list. I've never seen anyone on a page for a local business or a community page about a programming language recommend any lists. But I see shared circles on Google+ all the time. "Normal users don't care about lists..." Doesn't that make FB lists a non-starter when compared to G+ Circles?

Edit: Reading over my own post, it sounds like I'm saying of FB lists the same thing you've already heard about Twitter lists. Is Google's gold really that they have made "lists" compellingly simple for the normal user? Or is it unfair to consider G+ users "normal"? :P
Totally agree, Google has a great network, not just connecting friends but networking in a completely dynamic, natural way. Expanding conversations and information in an unprecedented way. I learn more of value on G+ than any other social network in less than a tenth of the time.
Didn't get anything you guys said but G+ is one of the best social network I have ever tried in my life.
"Programmers just don't talk about tech stuff there."

You're telling me. I have given up posting about cool accomplishments at work on Facebook. My family and friends must either stare at my posts blank-eyed, or ignore me completely. :P
I'm not on Facebook nor on Twitter, but I'm learning a lot about them from this thread.
1500? Did your mailbox pass the Turing test?
Ok, I'll bite. +Robert Scoble, show me a decent breaking news list on Facebook and show me a decent news list for Syria on Facebook.
Twitter, Facebook, and google+ have their own uses. Each channel is designed for a purpose. I haven't been overly great at implementing it, but the best approach I can figure is to have only the content that is appropriate to each stream or network of people sent to each network.
I think you may be a little atypical though. I'd bet that the follower counts are very heavily skewed towards celebrities and high profile tech folks (like you, Jarvis, Guy, etc.). I know that's true everywhere (hence the top Twitter accounts are always celebs) but it seems even moreso on Google+ somehow. I'm not sure the average Google+ user gets dramatically more engagement or followers here vs. Facebook. Maybe I'm wrong...
+Robert Scoble Thanks for the award.
My family members and workmates are all on Facebook and I'm still surviving :-)
+Robert Scoble i have read many many times in your recent posts about social networks and particularly facebook that you are very very impressed with facebook's noise filtering and applauding it a lot(but without going into much details about it). Can you elaborate in more detail what in facebook are you liking so much in the name of noise filtering or newfeed relevancy? Do u mean to say that fb showing only 16% of your friend's post in your newsfeed works as a good noise filter to you?? You can never know which important post/update you missed from the remaining 84%. What is so impressive here? They are simply limiting your and your friend's post/update reach to just 16% to keep their server load in check.

And ultimately the stream quality depends on the quality of people in your friend list or circles and not on the algorithms. If your friendlist/cirlces share shit posts then no matter how facebook filter it, your feed will be full of shits. From your lines it feels that facebook is changing some shit posts to meaningful ones which is not true. Facebook is just putting a cap on the reach of your posts and posts reach you. And g+ also provides that feature with volume slider. So Please give more details about how facebook improves or filters your news feed??
+Robert Scoble I believe the first step that Google must take to have better noise control is to put a slider on every profile page. Circle volume control is not enough, sometimes I don't want to unfollow someone but they are so loud and I cant control what I see from them without punishing a whole circle. And that leads to more circles just for the few noisy people. Circles are great except when there are so many it becomes a hassle.

So profile sliders along with a few Google algorithms here and there and Google+ will be a much better network.
If I used the Facebook one you showed me I would be far less informed than if I used your Twitter one. Simply speaking for myself and what I need, Facebook doesn't really work for an immediate source of what's going on right now anywhere in the world the way that Twitter does. It's where I go to hear what friends and family are up to and maybe catch up on more evergreen news.

I come to G+ for great conversations like this one.
For major contributors like yourself, it's thriving but for the casual user, it's not. At least that hadn't been my experience.
The quality of comment and discussion here mixed with the ability to control the floodgates of who sees what post and in what context of other viewers make me stick around. Facebook is too dependent on the disposition of others, and Twitter is too open.
Google+ received an initial burst, and now it is growing organically. Tech and photography are quite strong. Other areas will continue to grow. My gut says it will be more of a useful social network than a cat-photo panacea. Facebook will become people's personal network, and G+ might end up their hobbyist/work-related network -- if it catches on.
+Robert Scoble "People do NOT trust Facebook. They might use it, but many don't love the company and don't trust that their stuff won't be public at some point. "

I watched +Larry Page's interview with Charlie Rose the other day and a while back I also watched +Mark Zuckerberg on Charlie's show. For some reason, if given the choice, I would trust Larry better than Mark, because of Google's involvement and track record of service to humanity (self driving car, google maps, google glass etc) and because Larry's academic outlook on life.

I know that Facebook has done a lot to change the world, but that comes across to me as a happy accident, rather than something that came about through intent…

I sense Larry Page to be a much more, centered and stable (and therefore trust worthy) guy, than Mark.
You know the biggest problem with Google Plus? The ridiculous way they say you can message anyone and share pictures with anyone via the comment box/integrated email feature and then come to find out, after sending out/sharing tons of pictures and videos to non-google users, all they receive are friggin' advertisements from Google+ and no real clear way for them to simply view the damn content the Google+ user has sent out.
Someone tell them to just make the technology WORK effectively! That's all the advertisement they need. If it WORKS, then people will stick around. When I share a picture with someone, I expect them to get the picture, or the folder of pictures, or the video without the hassle of being asked to sign up for Google Plus.
I love Google+ but someone should tell the advertisement team to stop jumping in the way of the ease of use. The best advertisement is simply showing how easy it is to use and integrate with everyone.
It's high time my comment to a non-google user should be directly filtered through my gmail and vice-versa. I don't know how difficult that type of integration would be, but I don't care... That's the thing that will really push G+ over the top. Without that, people are simply getting frustrated with this network.
Don't forget the socio-political world events that first broke mainly through Twitter.
Aside from that I will be the umpteenth person to agree with the point that Twitter through Flipboard is the best reading experience ever.

But the overwhelming majority of actual social, two way, engagement is through Facebook.

And now with the Google+ App redesign I'll be using this more and more.

I will say though, there's something about Twitter as the platform of choice for Hollywood celebrities in their public life. Am I right?
I actually appreciate Twitter as an information utility for professional purposes. In spite of its reputation for real-time engagement, it's easier for me to catch up on the news there than on the other sites. The pictures/posts on Google+ are too big for me to get an overview of diverse topics. I even needed Twitter to find this article. Facebook's apps, brands, and my friends' "fun" content rarely do much more than offer a distraction I am seeking. I think the conversations on Google+ are richer for humans to engage and machines to analyze.

To actually answer the question (apparently I listen better on Twitter, too), Facebook's efforts to control the noise drive me deeper into content and relationships that I SEEM to prefer. On Facebook, encountering diverse perspectives is becoming harder as a human. The lack of tools to control the noise for myself would ultimately lead me to abandon the property. If most people are like me and the platform does not deal with the silo effect, Facebook could become the next ghost town.
Im in Boston and most of the teens here are big on twitter, Boston Teens know how to use social media right?
Nice post, I agree with much of what you are saying but I think the key way to cut down some of the noise on Twitter is by using lists, but even that is not a sure fire way of doing so. I also agree with the comments on usage rates picking up on Google+ things are looking better.
Such an interesting, useful conversation. Thanks!
The list feature does not inspire me - probably because of the way that I use Facebook and the (mostly casual) content that I already have there. I really appreciated the haphazard nature of interacting with friends from high school or stumbling onto quirky articles before our metadata started pushing us apart.
+Robert Scoble I've been on G+ from the beginning, and I recently got on Twitter (although I only sign in on Twitter occasionally). I don't trust Mark Zuckerburg, so I'm not on FB. While I recognize that I am atypical, I invest my time on G+ (and it ain't no ghost town).
Twitter Lists are the way to make Twitter manageable +Robert Scoble . But they have made the Lists themselves practically un-useable! The Lists need to be more easily accessible for one thing.
I hear you, but I disagree on a few things too.

Twitter hasn't become noisy; it was always that way, just people have decided to use it more and more. It definitely has limitations (which it can potentially still address), but for me it is still the preferred channel. I've invested the time to organize it well for me (lists).

I struggle to "follow" G+ - it"s still a place I only come to via links from either Twitter or Facebook. Otherwise I find it too time-consuming.

Which brings me to Facebook - maybe it's just me, but Facebook's mobile (iPad) app crashes almost every time when it opens up it's internal browser to view a Google+ webpage (such as this one - I tried 5 times before leaving Facebook app to get here). Coincidence? I'm not so sure ... And finally for now, while I understand your reasoning for letting only friends-of-friends post comments on your Facebook posts, it means that I lose engagement very quickly.
I'll probably feel more compelled to use the lists if I change, but I still appreciate your showing me the link. Thank you!
The huge over hype of Facebook is powered by ignorance it has to be fb that's propagating that the are only a handful of people on g+ cause that feeds people's cognitive dissonance and preferred ignorance. Also the laggards that don't want to change their status within the law of diffusion of innovation.
Facebook is my private/close friends social network, Google+ is my primary/public/interest based/news sourcing social networking. I hardly touch Twitter.

Facebook and Google+ both allow in-line commenting. Huge difference. Google+ offers exactly what Twitter does - public short-hand information and real-time event/news sourcing, it simply does it more effectively and offers a far richer environment.

I turned the ticker off on Facebook as soon as it got enabled, god that thing annoyed me :P
I really feel there times when tech community lives in bubble.
+Robert Scoble, I believe truly effective noise filtering has yet to happen and while g+ delivers more valuable content than twitter, the population spends to much time on consumption and not enough on creation - I know I certainly do.
The real question is, how can ppl be incentivized to make the switch.
I think Twitter has started to realize this as well - they now send out weekly summary emails.
Great post!
I agree with Twitter being a noisy stream that is hard to manage. Since they keep screwing up the UI, I have lost almost all interest in Twitter.

On Facebook, only 12% of your friends see any given wall post you crank out, so that's kind of ghostly.
But if @RealRonHoward is only on Twitter, you have to be there, so don't delete your Twitter account just yet. (great tweets about his film: "Rush") ب_ب
+Robert Scoble Gotta agree with you. I have said since day one of G+ launching that it was a Twitter killer, not Facebook killer. As it's basically Twitter with nested conversations. I have always hated that I have to remember what was said to me or what I said to someone in a tweet on Twittter if the reply doesn't come back immediately. Things always have seemed disconnected when 2 people are talking to each other. It's great for posting quick tidbits and news blurbs. But that's about it..

The Interest Lists on Facebook signal a massive change to me. The ability to create and follow these lists is a bigger deal than most realize. You can control so much on the lists, types of posts, add people and pages to it. The controls are fantastic. Plus if a list goes viral your personal subscriber count goes through the roof pretty quickly. My 2 favorite lists are and this one both of which I believe you are on! lol
Sid J
My take :
1. I never was into twitter so my account is not very active
2. I have friends and family activities on fb
3. For the most part g+ is where I get to spend a lot of time. The trending topics and the what's hot services provide me a lot to read
4. As I increasingly use my phone more than my computer fb is no longer able to help me much. I can't even share a post on mobile fb.
i Cjay
+Robert Scoble I told you twitter was sucking but you said I was wrong. I saw it coming way for you baby,, and you know what? Facebook is next. 8P~~
Sid J
+Robert Scoble I have kinda missed the new fb stuff have to try the photo app and the list. I do login to fb when I am at work and on a laptop but they don't seem to have publicized the new features on their own home page
+Robert Scoble Further to this trust thing, Larry vs Mark: to be socially smart is one thing, but to have your priorities firmly centered around how to benefit humanity - I see more of that with Larry than with Mark. Maturity invokes trust, I see more maturity in Larry…

But you having met them both had the opportunity to pick up non-verbal cues that only a person to person encounter can deliver.
Agree, Twitter has had its day in the sun. Time to move on :-)
Twitter is / will become a message conduit or messaging platform essentially part of the Internet plumbing. Not a social network in its own right. A platform to build things on top of and connect devices and humans alike.
I totally agree that Twitter needs more noise filters, but that hasn't (yet?) negatively affected the amount of time I spend using it. It's still the first feed I read every morning, before Facebook, e-mail, GReader, G+, etc. Honestly I don't care even if it is feeling like a "ghost town" of humans, as long as the information continues to be good and fairly good quality to me. Being a real-time information streaming source is the main reason I use Twitter now and for the past several years, anyway. The ability to follow some cool famous people is a bonus to me.

I do wish they would fix lists, too, though. No retweets in lists is just crazy (or have they fixed this now? TweetDeck gives me retweets in lists, at least).

I hope that Twitter does bolder things to filter the noise than just a weekly e-mail of the best content. Because for a "real-time information network" a weekly email is basically useless. How about adopting a Quora model and allow people to follow topics as well as people/accounts? (That would probably involve a huge amount of server-side processing to define the subject of tweets, but I can dream.) I would love to be able to expand on a certain topic and see tweets from my "extended neighborhood" of twitter (e.g. "friends of friends") as well as from highly followed accounts, etc. This would be much more powerful than hashtags (and less prone to spam!).
+Robert Scoble one of the issues on Twitter is the ridiculous limit on following no more than 2,000 people if you have less than 2,000 followers. I'm in this category and it prevents me from following new people. Even with that annoyance, I spend 90% of my time on Twitter. The other 10% is split between Facebook and Google+.
And also taking away Twitter's options for monetisation. No money, no business, no future. Did Twitter just take too long to spool up?

I do wonder about the Facebook strategy of creating a 2nd Internet, will that succeed? How did that fare for AOL? Will they learn from AOL's mistakes? Was the Facebook plan to just IPO and run with the money... who could knock that :-)

For Googleplus, they have a good API, yet where are the apps that utilise it? Early days...
wrt point number 2., the name +Robert Scoble is one of the most famous on the internet, so suggested user list argument is not strong.

Other than that, Twitter is definitely going down in interest and engagement. I am looking at 20,000 users who joined in May 2009, May 2010, May 2011 and Jan 2012. A surprisingly large number have not only never tweeted, but have one or less friends, one or less followers. If anyone would like to look at the Twitter data (it's in Google Docs format :), contact me.

G+ engagement can't easily be measured as we all know. Anecdotally speaking, it's not nearly as strong as it should be, for me and my "group". I derive this feeling from being on large forums, usenet and mailing lists for almost 20 years. I'm sure it will get better and I know Google is proactively doing a lot to make this so, as are enthusiastic users like you and me.

The whole ghost town thing is a journalistic catch phrase. It's a little like people tweeting "bacon" or "coffee" every day.
+Robert Scoble Is the fact that your Facebook friends see only 12% of your wall posts a noise filter feature, or a big disappointing reality -- or a way to make money?

I got the message that I could highlight a wall post for $5.00 and it would have an estimated reach of 800 people. For $10.00, an estimated reach of 14000 people, less than twice the reach for twice the price.

I know Facebook is trying in convoluted ways to deal with this, but why don't they explain the algorithm: like "if you want to see more posts by some friend, be sure to click like and share and comment more often" or similar?
Actually, ready give up on G+, same content from Twitter/Facebook and I get more engagement from them. I really dislike G+ UI changes both web and moblie, wanting to avoid looking at it or scan through it quickly.
+Robert Scoble I'm a big Giants fan and a lot of my Twitter usage is following real-time commentary on the games as they're happening. If this is happening on Google+, I'm totally missing it. Google+ is a great place for me to deep-dive on tech stuff but for sports & breaking news, I still go to Twitter. Will be interesting to see if it's any different a year from now.
I've had a pretty comfortable pace of activity on G+ since I got here. This came from me and a few dozen other people from a single site all joining when it went public. I moved into this with one large circle already robust, and a few others doing just fine.

I do think that there are a few problems (chiefly the lack of passive public posts, so I can push a post to certain circles without it being permanently hidden from everyone else, or taking up room in their feeds.) But I quite like it.
I've shifted my information diet to more long form - ebooks, while mixing in a few friends blogs. All social web destinations are losing their appeal for me, there's just not enough depth. Disqus may be the only exception, I continue to transition from comments to friends from that network.
+Robert Scoble I use Twitter lists to focus in on areas of interest - Giants, local food trucks, etc - but Twitter does a pretty bad job of making those lists accessible. Tweetbot makes it super easy to jump in and out of lists but most people won't take the time to figure that out. It's all about filtering the noise, right? BTW congrats on Patrick's graduation. Seems like a great kid with a bright future.
The only thing I use my twitter for these days is notifying my followers when I write a new blogpost. And the traffic it generates is very little. And zero interaction is gained from my twitter, I actually get the best feedback on my posts on fb, but i still much prefer g+
Never really liked twitter.. facebook is great tool to keep in touch.. Google+ is the place to hangout =D
+Robert Scoble, I've completely given up on twitter, and if G+ is a "ghost town", then I must be a pretty happy ghost myself, who found quite an amount of amazingly talented and like-minded ghosts here. For me as photographer, both facebook and (especially) g+ are so much more visually appealing, and (of course) by far less limiting.
+Robert Scoble Facebook's interest lists can't be shared publicly. At least not in the true sense of "public": accessible outside Facebook
Love the use of twitter when there are somthing big happening. But as you say +Robert Scoble , I dont follow any more users today than for a year ago, and i dont get a lot of new followers either.
+Robert Scoble I can only speak for Italy: here G+ is not picking up yet, while Twitter is on fire as a medium. So if I had to scope myself out of the USA, G+ would win the Ghost Town Award. But I don't limit myself and I enjoy both networks :-)
Ive wondered how much has to do with spam filtering specifically. I'm nobody, not a woe is me statement, just i'm not a celebrity in any sense. I have 192 Twitter followers, I'm aggressive about reporting spam & block all the time. I consider my tweets to be more thoughtful than most, I've been on Twitter since may 2008 yet almost ALL of the @ replies or dm's are from 3 friends I interact with in meatspace regularly.

not only do my friends/followers on Facebook and Google+ tend to reply to, comment on, or +1 my posts far more than my tweets, but I've also been more successful in engaging the people I follow on those networks. It's pretty cool being able to interact with someone who makes stuff you dig. I'm pretty sure that's because there is more signal and less noise on Facebook and Google+ than Twitter. 
My Twitter usage has slowly declined since Google+ started. Now I don't even check it that much, let alone post.
The big problem is that all of the people saying "Google+ is a ghost town" are analyzing public posts. And we already know that, because of the amazing circle system, the vast majority of G+ users are simply not posting publicly. The media and the rest of the world just haven't caught up to that fact.
+Robert Scoble Plenty of evidence for us , the people who actually see it and interact with it. To someone just blindly crunching numbers, it's true -- there are fewer users, and they post less often. Those are the stats that always get quoted.

No one is looking at growth. No one is looking (because they can't) at the true behind-the-wall activity. [Aside: I think I have a grand total of two public posts, but hundreds of activity items to just my circles.]

Unfortunately, I have no clue how to fix that. Sure, talking about it in public forums is great, and hopefully we'll eventually get the media's attention. But in the mean time, what else is there we can do? I just keep wishing Google would release more stats about aggregate non-public activity.
Somehow Twitter provides best informational feed for me. I've tried doing same with G+ and FB but not succeeded yet.
Great article - I am still using all three but enjoy Facebook most being a visual person!
Sid J
In addition to the number of followers - which for casual socializer isn't in the 1000s - I have been looking at the likes and +1s on external sites. At a glance without any research I feel that technology sites have a lot of g+1s, entertainment and lot of likes and business sites seem to have tweets.
Too many times, even just in the last week, I've told someone (of my age, in the tech community) that I posted photos or some interesting link on G+. Rather than accepting that fact and going to look at what I posted, the complain that it is not on facebook or somewhere "that actually has stuff going on". These are people who don't use G+ simply because they heard it was a ghost town and never gave it a chance. That's what worries me about the negative press.
Sid J
And linkedin shares
The engagement on this post is proof in of itself...
I might be on the "fat tail" but Twitter for me works best with 3rd party tools and the notion of "self-organisation" which does tip at a point.

Interesting points raised though and I would agree that Twitter do need to increase their signal to noise ratios natively by adding more features and opening these up through their API.

The value of Twitter is the real-time chatter especially across big events, throughput of information and power of the hashtag is unmatched, they just need to figure out how to make interfaces to this better.
I guess, twitter is still king for immediate news, facebook keeps it's place (for now) for friends, and google+ is my source for inspiration, ideas & concepts.
+Ben Lang - Yeah you gotta give it to Scoble, he does walk the talk when it comes to engaging. I'm impressed.

Personally I would find it way too exhausting, but then that's introversion for you. ;)

I also agree about Twitter. I'm only on it, because I refuse to knock something without trying it (5 times). But I really just don't see the point. It's loud and spammy.

Also stayed clear of Google Plus, simply because FB works already enough work for me. It's tiring having to manage all these networks.
J Doss
Unfortunately Path is a real Ghost town. One of the best user experiences in an app. 
Chris B
Facebook but don't face off with Google plus.
One criticism of this post though:

Scoble is wrong to say that "G+ Ghost Town" is an invalid criticism, as he is sitting with hundreds of thousands of followers.

When I do pop in here, once a month or so, I see the same sad fucks posting stuff, toiling away mercilessly, without any replies or engagement.
+Matt Tagg something we could ask of the Google+ team is to autoadd people in people circles every time they moan/troll that they don't see enough engagement.
+Robert Scoble , In Norway I see that Television shows are getting more and more into twitter. For a year ago they only advised people to visit their FB site, now they do not mention that so often, but rather advise people to use hashtag twitter.
Rae O.
+Robert Scoble What ghost town would have a #Tigerhangout with +Tiger Woods picking three people from +Google+ to participate in it. Furthermore, the only reason I got in the #Tigerhangout was because I asked anyone in my circles (that know I'm a golfer and fan) to post on +Tiger Woods thread that I would be a good choice. Much to my delight it worked!

The production company said: "Congratulations on being selected for the Google+ Hangout with Tiger Woods next Tuesday, May 29th.

I don't know that I've ever seen so many people nominate another person in such big numbers. I'm excited for your participation."

I don't have big numbers, but I do have quality friends.
I periodically scrape google's public profiles and G+ IDs.
Over the last month I have seen a growth of roughly 16.2 million public G+ IDs. In the same time I also saw a drop of about 200k google profiles, which likely translates to 200k existing users converted their google profile into a G+. Though arguably that could also mean 200k people deleted their profile, but since the growth of G+ IDs is so much larger, it seems more plausible that these users switch to G+.
It's an interesting discussion. Last night Europe had the +Eurovision Song Contest and I was public posting my commentary with #eurovision tags. Within an hour, 15 people had added me on and I had some excellent witty responses to my posts. Even though the #eurovision volume on twitter dwarfed that of Facebook and G+, G+ offered a lot more intimacy and banter quality.
+Robert Scoble Oh I think you misread my post. I am not complaining at all, so "fault" does not enter into it.

I was talking about users I see on here just blindly typing essays into the proverbial ether. Funnily enough they don't seem to mind or notice the lack of responses to their weighty tomes.

I use private Facebook groups for most of my online activity and invite people I meet in real life who are interested. I also occasionally post stuff to my Timeline, that I feel a wider audience would like, but also so that a random visitor can get a sense of who I am, if they are interested.

So I'm not a popular influencer like yourself, nor am I even attempting to go down that route, because it takes a certain skill and positioning required to pull it off, and one's personality also needs to be suited to it. My preference is for small groups.

G+ sounds perfect in theory for this, but not everyone uses it firstly, and while I love "new and shiny" as much as the next person in the valley, why do I need to invest a significant amount of time fixing a problem that is already solved with FB?
Hi +Matt Tagg, people who don't get any engagement here on Google+, are holding it wrong :)
Kidding aside: Read this great post by +Mike Elgan: The "secret" is in 1) posting publicly, 2) engaging other users first. +Robert Scoble might have half the world following him here on Google+, but I see people with 1000 followers get quality engagement as well - if they hold it right :)

You could try it for yourself. Come here every day, share at least one good thing publicly, add some personal commentary to your share, and comment on other people's stuff. And see how quickly things start to change.
+Robert Scoble I wrote a story the other day for this coming week in +Media Tapper where I state my reasons on why I'd like to use a pay social network. I get it that the concept is heresy. There's room for both pay and "free" social networks, although the data we give up makes the service not free at all really.
Too many people on Twitter these days are trying to sell or push something to people, or publicly patting themselves on the back for something. If they're not doing that, some are still using it as a running commentary of their lives. Which I've found less and less interesting.
II still regret the lack of general read-write API. It would have tremendously help spreading Google+.
Actually Twitter is really useful if you have a purpose for using it and are creating engagement from people who fit into certain criteria... it is quick uncluttered and easy to learn... having established connection then Google Plus or Facebook platforms are ideal to develop engagement... Twitter for us is a discovery and suspect development environment...
If G+ is a ghost town then it is haunted by a lot of ghosts. There's too much noise on FB and twitter may be too simple.
Maybe I missed it, but I'd like +alexis madrigal from The Atlantic to comment.
For me, Facebook is a community of friends, where Google+ are communities of interest. I don't use Twitter really, but I am surprised about the statistics that I see on Google Trends:
Basically Twitter and LinkedIn both seem to be growing still faster than Google+, which is not what I would expect to see. Red is twitter, Orange is LinkedIn and Blue is Google+.
I think one of the reasons why you're getting so many followers is that Google Plus has you on the supercharge list. Google Plus used to be awful for me at first, I didn't know who to follow. One day they put up a feature where you could super charge your circles. A neat feature that's basically like having a news feed on my circles. It even divided the feeds into categories.
I think g+ just has a much better signal to noise ratio. While I don't have a huge number of personal posts, giving the impression that I may not be participating to others, I do comment on a fair number of posts and read a lot.
Twitter is unexciting. It's an experience relative to sending signals in to outer space and never hearing anything back. You only hope someone is listening.
I have never utilized Twitter. I opened an account but it wasn't immediately intuitive for use. Also I don't really know anybody with a Twitter account so I didn't see a point in being active about use. I heavily use my Facebook and G+ accounts. My G+ has even gotten more attention simply because I can access it from work, where almost every major corporation has blocked Facebook. I mean how is an IT focused group/company going to block Google?? So I have added more subscriptions to my G+ and utilize it more to stay in touch with my "interests" and my Facebook is more to stay in touch with my friends and family.
I see Twitter as completely separate from Facebook and G+. I use Twitter to follow specialist sources or general news (I completely agree with +Robert Scoble that its an "Information Utility") but following replies or comments to Tweets is difficult. It's like trying to follow a loud conversation happening next to you in a restaurant: you aren't part of it; you often didn't hear the beginning of the discussion - so it doesn't entirely make sense - and you're distracted by chatting to your own friends, so you keep loosing the thread of what they're talking about on the next table. In other words, it's disjointed and slightly weird. 

Facebook or G+ is much more like the conversation on your own table; it's engaging (hopefully) and you know exactly what's going on (well sort of).

So in answer to Robert Scoble's question, Twitter will stay flat. It's a giant ticker feed; no more, no less. Like traditional news media, it's 'rise' or 'fall' depends entirely on what's happening in the world - in exactly the same way as CNN has a huge ratings spike whenever there's any major news event.

Personally, I am using Facebook less and less. And I don't think that I'm alone in this. I not going to leave altogether because it's undeniably useful, but I am learning to loath the games; the ridiculous, irrelevant ads; and the proliferation of feeds telling me who has listened to a certain track, watched a Viddy video or read an article on WSJ or Huffington Post. It would be different if my friends were posting this information themselves, but they're not. These automated feeds are becoming the social media equivalent of Robo Calling.

So I couldn't care less whether the press label Google+ a 'Ghost Town' or not. Google+ has a stunning iPhone app (Facebook's astonishing failure in the mobile arena is worthy of a whole new discussion) but even more importantly, G+ is free of unwanted ads and infantile bullshit. It's the one place where I can engage in good, rambling conversations with my friends or colleagues, or may even be invited to join in a discussion on the next table.

Wanted to comment, but after scrolling down for 400 meters I found it somewhat pointless. - However,.. here it is. I think all three networks will fail in the next 2-3 years as something more user friendly or more technology up to date will arrive. At the moment, each of these social networks have their uses. Not sure about Google+, but that is most likely because I have never understood what makes it different from FB.
I think your follower count has gone up on G+ because there's nobody to follow but the suggested users. There are a TON of people that interest me on both twitter and Facebook that tried G+, used it for a week and haven't ever come back. Lots of people I talk to have that experience. Your experience doesn't equate to the experience of someone who's just beginning to use the service. 
I'd just like to add that Twitter bores the crap out of me.
Robert, I have not given G+ a fair chance recently. What happened for me: a month or so after it had the World spotlight, I noticed my follower count jumped WAY up, but the engagement didnt change. Literally nothing - I was even trying.

Then, I dropped off of G+ for awhile because it was too noisy and required too much effort to organize the information (this is what I'm gathering in retrospect though at the time, it just happened and I wasnt aware of why). I didnt see any of my family and friends from Facebook or Twitter coming over, and wasnt sure if this was supposed to replace FB or supplement it. I.e. do I cross post, or do I do something different here?

As I started, I have not given it a fair chance lately, but when ever I post something that is memetic on its own, it seems to go nowhere here.

Re: your points about Twitter - I use it for a) finding headlines and b) realtime thought outbursts. But its not so much for conversation or being social.

Re: Facebook - Not sure what happened to me; I must of lost it or something because I find Facebook to be one of the worst interfaces I have ever seen and it is daunting to me that it works for people. I do not like everything about the layout and the design, the app, the closed doors, the noise, whew, its really bad imo.

In closing I think we need a CMS/interface that allows us to manage everything in one place. Pinterest, Twitter, G+, FB, email, photos, videos, RSS and whatever else we might use, like Path, or Flickr (doh) and manage EVERYTHING comming in and going out from one place, like Friendfeed was supposed to do. IMO, this will be the next big thing to usurp them all.
New users that circles me here on Google+ has stagnated though. A lot fewer circles me every day now.
Personally, I like Google+ but I still find many of my non-geek friends have not taken that strongly to it. I like the Twitter-like utility as a social news reader, but I think it falls short in sheer widespread appeal. I hope this changes. I would also like to see some high-quality mobile apps. Talented developers like Tapbots, makers of iOS Twitter client Tweetbot, have helped to keep me an active Twitter user. I hope Google opens up the API and can successfully garner the interest of talented third party developers. The lack of a dedicated iPad app and now the inability to use the desktop version of Google+ in mobile Safari leaves a lot to be desired. 
Another supporting data point: It took Britney Spears 8 months to be the first person to reach 3 million followers on Google+ and it took Ashton Kutcher 36 months to reach the same milestone on Twitter.
I find myself spending more and more time in Google +.
Evan G
I feel twitter is really good for maintaining a high signal to noise ratio. I can follow who I want and ignore anyone else. This may less to less overall follower counts as people try to maintain a higher quality news feed
Definitely too much noise on Twitter. Too hard to keep up with all of it. Still post more to Facebook but partly because I use Tweetdeck. When G+ can integrate more with those kind of feeds rather than be a standalone it will become even better and completely take over from Twitter.
Twitter is only noise if you try to follow folks who do not value your time. 
REDDIT is a "lesser" known social site and adopting its voting system would boost G+ enrollment and participation further. Especially on a mobile platform, it's a hassle to scroll and sift through 300+ comments on a popular topic.
US TV networks more and more adopting the episode hashtag. Where it used to be #tvshowname on the screen, now it usually deals with the particular episode theme instead. Brilliant for getting fans to interact in real time...if that's your thing.
+Robert Scoble or anyone else - I, too, think Flipboard is the best way to view my Twitter feed. But what about Facebook? I have spent a decent amount of time trying to filter out the FB noise and also take advantage of the relatively new (but hard to find) interests lists. My News Feed is pretty good and not overwhelming. But with Flipboard it doesn't appear that I'm getting the exact same experience. I seem to be getting additional stuff (the noise I had cut out). Am I missing something?

By the way, +Robert Scoble , ironically I learned about Facebook's new interest lists while listening to your latest G+ Hangout. Thanks.
Facebook has been dead for me for the last 3 years.
Twitter has been rising over the last 3 years but flat for 2012.
Google+ was dead until 2012 at which point it started rising at an accelerating rate.
Once you get used to the rich features for posts offered by G+ and FB the Twitter stream seems rather boring in comparison. So as a place where you want to engage with others it's not the best anymore. However it is useful almost like an RSS stream giving you links quickly to things that are interesting and it's still a great place to find out what's going on in the world.

I first realised its power as a news source when you +Robert Scoble years ago broke the news about earthquakes happening in China. When FriendFeed came along I remember you encouraging (the smart) people to engage in intelligent conversation there which was the right call. G+ is like FriendFeed evolved.

So I don't think it's a ghost town but it's become more a one-way broadcast medium of interesting information and news. It's almost like the social media equivalent to a radio station. 
I think Twitter leads the social media ghost town charge (at the moment). +Robert Scoble hit the nail on the head in terms of seeing real value and connections through the Twitter noise.
Wow! What an informative post/comment trail. What makes the post so informative is the interaction that Robert has — each commenter knows that Robert is reading his/her comment and considering it and in many cases responding directly to it with great feedback.

I expressed my sentiments by +1s, probably more +1s than i have ever laid down on one post. Thanks very much, Robert, for sharing your knowledge and always having open ears.

P.S. I did find myself wanting to comment on many comments and it would be nice to have those indented response comment boxes (as i recall YouTube once had). Why don't social platforms allow for specific comments on specific comments, but instead relegate all comments to the end of the trail?
I'm hesitant to draw sweeping conclusions about these services based on Scoble's personal observations since his behavior on them is so wildly different than almost everyone else on the planet. I also think it's wrong to presume that all these services are trying to do the same thing and should be judged by the same metrics/criteria. For example I often hear folks lamenting the 'lack of engagement' on Twitter. What if 'engagement' isn't a big part of what twitter is building? I think 'social media' is too general a term to accurately describe all these services and it implies that they are all trying to compete on the same ground.
Another great post Robert. Couldn't agree more with you. 
+Robert Scoble Regarding FB interest groups. I can't find them. I have subscribed to a few folks that post on my interest such as yourself.. As well as many that follow or post on the music I follow.. I have not turned on Time line. Not sure I like it and i have a few of my friends that say the same.. Just my two cents worth about half a penny in today's day and age..
+Robert Scoble Ty for sharing this. I actually have to think twice before I start to follow some one on Twitter. It's becoming a spam wall.
+Robert Scoble I also think you're a special case. I, for one, have been publicly commenting on others' posts, I've been participating in public hangouts, and all of my own posts are public, but yet, I receive no engagement, at all.
Twimbow solves a lot of the things you don't like about Twitter.
To me Facebook is like the 'tabloid'. I read my 'celebrity' gossip there, where the celebs are the people I met throughout my entire existence (I don't add strangers). G+ is where I go to get some independent press news. People I don't really know but have interesting stuff to say (because most people I met throughout my life are not on G+).
You're nuts if you believe this, Robert. Maybe in your uber-tech-early-adopter circles this is the case, but in the so-called real world, Twitter use and adoption is growing tremendously.

And let's face it, if you went back and started (resumed?) using Plurk, people would follow you there. That doesn't mean it's an active social network -- might be for you, but not in reality. :-)
When +Robert Scoble talks engagement, I believe his observations are largely accurate from the perspective of a power-user with scads of followers. Perhaps not so much for the average user, whose community is going to be just people they actually know, plus a few "interesting folks" whose feeds they'd like to read. Really, for most users of social media, it's the "people they know" who are going to respond.

I have around 200 followers on Twitter and Google+, and seldom does anyone ever reply to anything I post there. On Facebook, with about 150 "friends," most of which are personally known, I might see up to five of them respond to a post.

The thing is, the majority of people are not power-users and most cannot gain a following if the format isn't reciprocal. Twitter and Google+ are more useful if all you want to do is keep up with what others are posting, but it's like having a telephone you can only receive incoming calls on.
G+ is a ghost town to me.

When it started up, a ton of my friends excitedly joined - finally! a social site that had the fine-grained privacy controls of Livejournal, without being Livejournal!

And then Google decided G+ was an "identity service" instead of a "social networking site" and chased them all off because they prefer to use clearly-fake aliases on the internet. I went from having a feed full of posts and a friend circle that was slowly growing as more of my social circles joined G+ and connected to me, to having a feed that had maybe 2 posts a week, with very few responses.

Nowadays when I click on that bright red number in the corner of every Google page, the only news it has for me is "some new people followed you". Usually dudes in Egypt who follow anything female with "egypt" in their profile - I do art under the name "Egypt Urnash" so I get this a lot on international networks.

Yeah, maybe I can follow a bunch of tech junkies like you. Everyone saying "G+ is alive!" usually points to a few people like you. But I have no interest in that. I want MY community of artists and freaks with playful names, and it ain't on G+ and may never be on G+ because they were quite firmly told "WE DO NOT WANT YOU" in the first couple of months.

The plural of "anecdote" is not "data" - but man, for me, all the action these days is on Twitter.
To echo Rob Baker, Robert do you have any accounts on social networks under psuedonyms? You probably should so that when you pass judgement on social networks, as you so often do, you are in a better position to allow for the fact that your Scobleizer accounts are wildly atypical of what most normal people see. You are a 1%'er of social networks. You have a huge camp following that follows you wherever you go, and large numbers of people who comment on your posts just to get exposure to your large following. You are going to get engagement wherever you go which perversely makes you uniquely unqualified to pass judgement on social network levels of engagement. Your camp following completely distorts your view of every social network you go to.

The problem with the level of engagement on your threads, like this one, is it would be fairly amazing if anyone, you included, reads even a fraction of the comments here, I doubt you will read this one, which tends to make me actually like the fact Twitter doesn't have threads, these 300 comment threads tend to be noise incarnate :)
Twitter has only one advantage. The 140 character limit. From that point it is a "quick and dirty":) shout box... but nothing more...

In 2012 interaction and added value are the key points. That is the big advantage of comment systems and on top of the interaction hill: the Google+ Hangout!
I don't like Facebook - get annoyed every time I go on there to check it out... how hard is it to just show the latest stuff at the top and the older stuff down the bottom???

I'm off to south east asia for four months and want to jot down my thoughts, I have a SGSII & SGTab10.1 - Google+ works pretty well on these devices :P

I'll be turning on the auto upload thing for pictures - seems to me like Google+ is a pretty sweet tool for a blog/post pictures online.

I like Twitter cause I've followed a bunch of interesting people (mainly developers) who share things that I can check out on my phone when I need something to read. Plus with TweetDeck it keeps my position in the list, if I don't open the app for 24hrs I can catchup where I left off.
There is a simple solution to this conundrum: Both Twitter and G+ are semi-"Ghost Towns", while Facebook does have most of everyone's friends and family locked in, and is thus trotting forward in a Zombified sort of state - people don't love it (recent surveys have repeatedly shown this), but they are busy using it anyway...

Overall, there seems to be a certain Social Media ennui to have descended on the scene.
Very nice post, +Robert Scoble, I couldn't agree more. I always think that the eternally quoted "study" that users spend 3 minutes a month on G+ as apposed to 20 minutes a day on Facebook is simply WRONG too.
I use twitter to get information twitted by a few popular hackers working on awesome projects, it's very good for that. It's definitely bad for socializing and even worse for conversation though. It also scales horribly as you add new followers. If twitter could fix these, that would turn twitter into a really powerful social tool.
Robert, you are the Sun in the Google+ galaxy.
Twitter is mostly used for one way communications now days. It's used like an RSS feed reader you follow people instead of subscribing to feeds but it accomplishes the same goal. A stream of data from sources you like but almost never respond to. G+ and FB are used for two way communications. G+ is great in this respect because you get in depth responses not just "that's what she said" or "lol"
+Margaret Trauth "G+ is a ghost town to me." At least you recognize that it's your own, individual experience. I've got a different perspective on the nym wars, but that's neither here nor there. ;)
Cool… what are the names on your pseudonym accounts so all your camp followers can follow you there :) Or do you mean you look at the accounts of others but don't run your own with a pseudonym? Not sure looking at other peoples accounts is the same as having an account of your own under a pseudynm where you have to work for followers. P.S. you get points for still reading this thread in all its voluminous glory.
that is so cool what is it suppose to really mean
In my opinion I don't think Google+, Facebook, or Twitter are a ghost town. In my daily use of each system, basically all I use Facbook for is keeping up with friends and family. I don't use it like I do on Google+.
On G+ I use it to follow interesting people like +Jeff Jarvis +Gina Trapani , +Robert Scoble even "brands" like +The Verge etc. This is my first spot to go in the morning to check out what is going on in the Tech world.
Twitter I have found very entertaining when watching TV shows, live sporting events, and also when at Tech conferences. The ability to all know a certain hashtag to search for and join into random conversations is still something that is missing from Facebook/G+. I think it just wasn't engrained into the culture of G+ when it started to hashtag things, maybe because you have no character limit.
Twitter a ghost town .. no way.. but I see what you are getting at. My point is that I don't see any major networks putting G+ tags while their shows are being broadcast like you do for Twitter. Fox especially I have noticed the hashtags they are putting in every show like Fringe etc. Which makes it fun to search and join in that hashtag conversation.
Twitter is a jump in and quick comment.. Facebook is deeper in that you engage directly with friends and family, G+ is my extended information network.
All engagement is not created equal. After all I can't comment in your facebook. That may alter your engagement.
I agree with the comments that Twitter is a broadcast medium. It is not a great place to start a two-way conversation or to join in an existing conversation. This while Twitter may not be a ghost town in terms of pure usage, it is a ghost town in the terms of the true conversations happening.

Twitter's true strength, early on, was its perfect mobile integration, but now the other social networks are fairly caught up on mobile integration.

The reason why Google+ is perceived as the ghost town is that it arrived far too late, and the average person cannot be persuaded to join yet another social network; after all, they may have a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (if they are adults), Formspring (if they are teenagers), and so forth.

The only way for Google+ to shed the "ghost town" stereotype is to take the strategy that Twitter, LinkedIn, and Formspring have already adopted--coexist with Facebook rather than attempting to replace it. Google+ is a giant in many arenas online, but it must content itself with gaining strength alongside Facebook than attempting to replace it.
+Thom Stricklin Sure, it's possible, I guess. But consider the Parretto principle (aka 80/20 rule) seems to dominate so many areas of our lives.

I see the same analogy here to social networks. +Robert Scoble is a master at the long tail stuff, managing to scan hundreds of interactions, and he does so while gaining very valuable insight.

However rationally no-one can expect that to illicit the same type of interactions, as one could in a small group of experts (eg Vienna circle). Imagine trying to come up with the theory of relativity (Einstein) by crowd sourcing opinions?

The "short head", (for lack of a better word - someone really needs to define the opposite of 'long tail' properly - but that's another post), can also produce, in my experience at least, very high quality interactions.

I'm certainly making no value judgement as to which is ultimately "better". Because that doesn't make sense to me, just that there does seem to be two different strategies at play.

The "happy medium" as proposed, perhaps appears unlikely to be effective, in that light.
Let's not forget that your followers aren't the "mainstream" either. G+ users tend to be more techy and connected. Your users tend to be more techy and connected. So it's doing better for you? Shocker.

You make some good points about Twitter but I do get a lot of great info from there. My stream contains a lot of noise but part of trying to know as much as possible is knowing the inane and filtering it so YOUR end users get a better stream.
Twitter is good to search for breaking news as if I think I feel an earthquake. But other than that I think it is very limited in interaction.
Never got a bunch out of least I have control over the spam factor here.
+Robert Scoble -Where would you say specialized networks like Quora fit into the overall picture?
+Robert Scoble to answer your question I often forget I even have a twitter account. I check it once or twice a month at best. FB is fairly steady with 99% of my new contacts being G+ people. I still find it far more noisy than I do here.

Most of my time is spent on G+ though I have both open pretty much all day.
+Thom Stricklin Talk about a disingenuous response.

Your pleasure with G+, or your false perception of my "disappointment with G+", is of no relevance to the argument that was made, which you so artfully avoided completely.

If you're going to be an advocate for G+ engagement, try walking the talk.
Sorry, didn't mean to come off dickish... Guess you touched a nerve ;)
On Twitter, I follow 437 people and am followed by 66. On G+, those figures are 421 and 247 respectively. The first number has grown more quickly on Twitter, as I only really started using Twitter after I signed up for G+, but the latter number is growing far more rapidly on G+. I'm not really sure why (I'm trying to find out, but not getting very far!) but I would say it has to do with the far greater interaction that goes on here. I still feel that Twitter is too clunky and doesn't engender snappy responses & involved discussion like G+.

Or it may just be that I don't tweet as much as I Google!
I actually stopped following +Robert Scoble on twitter way back when his tweets flooded my timeline. Here its much more controllable and I can still get easy access to his articles and not miss other people in a flood. 
this thread is another good reason why the API does not allow cross posting elsewhere. + 1 that it stays like that for a while yet.
I agree with this assessment. My incoming stream and interaction with other members on Google+ is terrific. And that's with the very modest number of people who circle me (about 1200, and I follow a few hundred more than that). Users make their own ghost towns or boom towns, I think, depending on how they treat them. But the G+ criticism is unfair.
You got, bought up by twitter. They will give a much better quality control of the feed after they implement summify. It gives you an daily email of the most interesting links on social media. To bad they will remove support for anything else than twitter now.
I rarely look at Twitter anymore - it feels like some oxymoronic "overcrowded ghost town." And I deactivated my FB account. Life's too short, and I'd rather read a good book each week than spend a few hours on FB. For some reason, I still like G+.
You should start a Pinterest board next, and weigh-in on followers there, too. :)
Well Facebook and twitter have limits on how many friends one can have , or a ratio of followers:following.

I have not reached a limit here.

I also love the way circles are implemented on G+
What a ghost town G+ has become! 195 shares, 581 +1's (likes), 345 comments.

Google+ has found a unique way to allow the entire audience and user base whom engages with others, to also enjoy in random engagement, rather than just the power users. And yet, power users still obtain the high engagement. For anyone to call G+ a ghost town, must not be leaving their own profiles - they're probably awaiting a notification while staring directly at their last post.

If one were to actually go out and engage the rest of the G+ audience, they'd see a much bigger and more accurate picture.
+Andrew Field I'm the same, I deactivated my FB many months ago - I'd rather spend the time doing something productive. Twitter is just a marketing feed to drive you elsewhere - I like G+ because it's not so noisy. But I still do not spend hours on here per day...
For me, Facebook has always been the school reunion that never ended. It was fun to catch-up with people I hadn't seen for years and to renew old friendships, but after a while you think... "well, we were friends in highschool, but that was a long time ago and we have both moved on to have different lives". It's also a great conversation starter for work "oh, you've been feeling a bit sick". But when it comes to friends and family, I like to catch up with them in real life, on the phone or via Skype. I use Twitter for work, mostly, though I'm sometimes wishing some people would just shut up. Seriously, how could you have tweeted 90,000 times in the time since Twitter came into being? As for Google+, I agree it's quieter and more considered. Most of my friends aren't here and that doesn't bother me. I see them in real life and chat on the phone. The people I find here are the interesting folk I've never met, but who bring something new and interesting to my life. The ghost-town stuff generally comes from people who have yet to engage with the platform in a meaningful way. Seriously I saw someone on Twitter tweet the ghost-town reference the other day and then followed him to Google+ and saw that he had followed 14 people. WTF?
School reunion that never ended is such a great description of Facebook.
I feel the same way. Most of my issues with the "noisiness" of Facebook has been fixed by adjusting my interests and list settings; my Google+ experience has gotten better, mostly by me interacting with others more, and they respond exponentially. Yet there is still Twitter...once my favorite social media platform, even the users who I used to look to for originality or inspiration seem to just be retweeting others' tweets. I find it harder and harder, every day, to log on there.
I'd say check with teenagers. It seems like twitter is still pretty popular with them. It's app is better, even though I just use hootsuite. The real draw back for me is that twitter no longer lets you connect to one of your pages so that your tweets automatically go on facebook.
From watching recorded Google Hangouts, +Robert Scoble expresses nothing short of rage about notion that Facebook is not the eternal king of all things social. Suppose it is a step in the right direction him saying something positive about an alternative.
well the simple stats of even this post seem to prove that google plus may still be mostly a ghost town. 5 days later and a mere 300+ comments with maybe a third of em being the good Man's replies. 1.5 million followers and a fraction respond. Numbers don't lie. cheers
Short sighted post. Real time unfiltered instant interaction based on your appeal is what makes Twitter better. MORE isn't necessarily BETTER. More of an impact can be made on Twitter than on here. THROW IT DOWN
Kudos, however, to Twitter for having a really awesome, usable API!
+Dapper Gatsby so how many subscribers does mashable or engadget have for their rss feeds and social networks? 1 or 2 millions? How many articles are getting more than 200 or 300 hundred comments? 
So you wanna tell me that these blogs are ghost towns, too? 
Let's look at the current usage situation, comScore numbers reported in the Wall Street Journal a week ago:
"Since Google+ made its debut in mid-2011, the Mountain View, Calif., company has had limited success getting people to spend time directly on the Google+ site. Research firm comScore Inc. a year ago estimated that Google+ users spent an average of three minutes on the site each month, versus more than 400 minutes for the average Facebook user. In the U.S., Google+ had nearly 28.7 million unique visitors through PCs in October—well below Facebook's 149 million, comScore says. Those numbers don't include mobile-device users."
There's No Avoiding Google+ (WSJ)

You know that I'm a huge Google fan and I love Google+; I spend most of my online time here.  In fact, apparently I'm #33 out of 400,000,000 G+ users in terms of engagement generated by my posts on G+, according to this recent  list of the top 1000:

We can shout 'til our lungs burst that "G+ isn't a ghost town", whatever that means, but for the non-mobile platforms measured, Google+ (if I understand these latest usage numbers correctly) has less than 1/600th the total amount of time being spent on it monthly, compared to Facebook.  Could that possibly be the level of success that Google was hoping for 18 months ago?

Surely an honest assessment of what G+ could be doing better, including some sort of user task force perhaps, would be far more helpful than cheer leading, which clearly hasn't done the trick.  It does no one any good to be at the front of a nearly-empty class.

If Google would like to assemble focus groups to study the situation and its contributing causes in more detail, I know a consultant, a former Visa executive, who's proficient at helping companies understand the motivations of individuals in their target markets.  It may be interesting for Google to see an assessment free of internal company politics and bias.
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