There’s a throwaway line that goes something along the lines of “Google+ is where I go when I want to be alone”. With 343-million people on the social network though, you might find it to get some personal space.
Yup, the social network that so many wrote off as sheer folly on the Google’s part is now the second most popular in the world.
According to the latest stats from Global Web Index Facebook still has the lead in the social networking charts with around 700 000 active users.
Google+’s place at number two however is the real headline finding though. Given that Global Web Index’s findings concentrate on active users, it puts pay to any theories that Google might be fluffing up the social network’s numbers. As Google head of social Vic Gundotra put it “That’s a lot of ghosts”.
Interestingly for Google, if you consider YouTube a social network, comes in at number three. This, says Global Web Index demonstrates the “immense opportunity of linking Google’s services through the G+ social layer”. It adds that is also a key indication of why Google+ integrated with the Google product set is “so key to the future of search and the internet”.
The fastest growing network in 2013 in terms of “Active Usage” meanwhile (defined as “Used or contributed to in the past month”) was Twitter. According to Global Web Index, it grew 40% to 288m across our 31 markets (approximately 90% of global internet population).
Twenty-one percent of the global internet population now use Twitter actively on a monthly basis. This compares to 21% actively using YouTube, 25% actively using Google+ and a staggering 51% using Facebook on a monthly basis.
The figures also point to another interesting phenomenon: the decline of the local social network in favour of the global one.
The likes of MeinVz, Hyves, Copains d’Avant have all been hurt by the rapid spread of Facebook and other social networks. Worst off though are the Chinese social networks. Tencent Weibo, Kaixin, Sina Weibo and QZone all declining substantially, up to 57% in the case of Tencent Weibo.
Global Web Index says that market saturation might be one reason that these social networks are struggling. It does however point out a few other reasons:
There are many networks, and it’s inevitable, despite China’s huge population and growing internet penetration that such a large number of mass market networks cannot be maintained
Growing government clamp down with real names and phone number becoming the required standard for signing up
Shifting of usage to more informal social media including blogs and forums, where privacy is easier to maintain
Growth of apps and mobile
Growth of international networks through proxy servers, VPNs, access through multi-national company networks and mobile apps.