At GenealogyInTime Magazine, we dug deep into our server logs and looked at trends in our Facebook likes and Google+ recommendations to see if we could discern any identifiable pattern. As an established genealogy website with a broad and large visitor base, we felt traffic flow to our website should be representative of genealogy in general. Here is what we found:
• As can be seen at the bottom of the home page, GenealogyInTime Magazine has 493 Facebook likes and 63 Google+ recommendations, with the numbers for both moving up steadily over time. This is a ratio of roughly 8 to 1 in favour of Facebook. It is also the same ratio as the broader population, suggesting that the relative popularity of Facebook/Google+ is the same in genealogy as in the general population.
• A review of monthly data on our website going back one year shows the ratio of 8 to 1 has been fairly stable during the period. This metric would suggest Google+ is not growing at the expense of Facebook, at least not in the field of genealogy.
• As a final check, we looked at the largest 25 genealogy websites in the world as discussed in the article Top 100 Genealogy Websites for 2013. Only four of the websites in the top 25 identified both the number of Facebook likes and Google+ recommendations (Genealogy Bank, Newspaper Archive, Ancient Faces and GenealogyInTime Magazine). Aggregating the data across the four websites showed Facebook was roughly 13 times more popular than Google+.
• It is possible to make a Google+ recommendation without having a Google+ account. Thus, the relative popularity of Facebook versus Google+ might, if anything, be understated by looking at just Facebook likes and Google+ recommendations. So, we dug a little deeper and did a full review of the traffic logs of GenealogyInTime Magazine over the last year to see if it yielded any discernible pattern. The bottom line: we get traffic from Facebook, we get traffic from Twitter, we even get traffic from Pinterest, but we get very little traffic from Google+.
Google+ has value to genealogy. Many dedicated genealogists have set up successful genealogy circles on Google+ and several prominent genealogy bloggers actively use the hangout part of Google+ to host video chats. It is just that for most people searching for their ancestors, Facebook continues to remain the social network of choice. Genealogy newsletters and email groups are another very popular means of disseminating genealogy information. So, although Google+ will continue to play a role in the field of genealogy, Facebook is likely to continue to dominate as the social network of choice for people wanting to trace their ancestors.
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