Google+ Surpasses Twitter to Become Second Largest Social Network

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Last week, Global Web Index released its December 2012 study of Active Social Platform Usage.  As expected Facebook remains on top with over 50% of global internet users actively engaged on Facebook each month.  The jaw-dropper of the report is that the Google Plus (G+) network has surpassed Twitter in number of active monthly users.  In the month of December 2012 G+ grew to 343 million users globally, or about 25% of global internet users.  Twitter came in 4th to YouTube with just over 20%.

Global Web Index Social Platform Active Usage Dec. 2012


According to Sam Fiorella, writing for the Huffington Post, to continue ignoring G+ as a marketing option is a risk few businesses can afford to take:

Google, through its various Web properties and deep integration with web- and social-based apps, is creating an interconnected database of users, content and relationships. This convergence of people, data and context is being referred to as the Web’s trust-based network. Google search engine results will be reprioritized to more favorably rank content that has been +1’ed or shared using the Google share/like widget or created and/or shared by people in one of your Google+ circles. Of course, this presentation filter only works when you are searching while logged in to Google, but let’s face it, with the growing number of applications and Web properties they control, the number of people permanently logged in is increasing exponentially every month. The goal of a search engine is to provide the most relevant information based on search queries and it now considers your social relationships a highly relevant factor in determining just what information is relevant to you.

While it’s becoming increasingly important to pay attention to the search and social marketing opportunities offered by Google+, Twitter is not to be discounted.  Even though, G+ numbers topped those of Twitter’s in December, GWI also noted that Twitter is currently growing globally at a faster rate than any other social network.  “GWI.8, the Q4 2012 dataset from GlobalWebIndex, shows that the number of active Twitter users grew 40% from Q2 2012 to Q4 2012. This is equal to 288 million monthly active users (claimed to have used or contribute to Twitter in the past month) across the 31 markets currently researched by GWI (representing nearly 90% of the global internet population aged 16 to 65). That marks a whopping growth rate in active users of 714% since July 2009.”



Is your brand making the most of the changing landscape of search and social?

Michelle Stinson Ross

Michelle Stinson Ross

Content & Outreach Goddess at AuthorityLabs
Michelle Stinson Ross is a digital marketing industry recognized authority on the outreach power of social media. She has worked as a community manager and... Read Full Bio
Michelle Stinson Ross
Michelle Stinson Ross
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  • Mahesh Mohan

    Dear Google, now say thanks to your 425+ million active Gmail users worldwide & the webmasters who signed up for a Google+ account to show their author info on SERPs.

    • Michelle Stinson Ross

      No doubt! Google gives us plenty of reasons other than social to join the network. But consider how much more influence G+ users have when it comes to verifying content. There is power in that +1

  • Sanat Singha

    This again proves that you cannot escape or avoid Google and think about something else to rank on. I would say Google+ was a huge success in the year of 2012 and the credit goes to SEOs as well.

  • Ribi Khaimov

    Great article. I was surprised to discover Google+ is ahead of twitter with 343 million users they grew exponentially since they started….but I guess it doesn’t hurt to have as wide a potential user base as Gmail does to stand on the shoulders of and take swings at the big guys.

  • Adam Wagner

    I would be interested to see actual engagement rates. I would imagine that Google+ has an incredibly low usage rate compared to Twitter or Facebook. I honestly do not know one person that is actively engaged in Google+, but the large majority of my friends have a profile and have posted on it sporadically. However, Facebook and Twitter users are there for a reason and are actively engaging with their audience.

    Google+ just has an advantage because it is integrated into everything Google does, not because users are actively seeking it out. The data is a testament to how influential Google’s tools are, not how popular their social network is.

    • Marc

      No one is suggesting G+ is anywhere near FB levels of engagement. The report also only shows users who contributed once in the last monnth, it says nothing about how often within the month. So its very likley that Twitter also has considerbly more activity.

      But, what is really shown here is the tremendous rate G+ is in fact growing, as its an indication that its a real player on the social scene. Keep in mind, G+ is only 18 months old. It took even Facebook 4 years to catch MySpace. At this rate G+ will leave Twitter in the dust and possibly even FB after its been around for a few years. Time will tell.

      • kalyan

        True.. Google is finally making a foray into the social media. But as Adam says, people are more engaged and involved in FB and Twitter than in G+ . But the stats are staggering in number since most people have at least one account in G+ and that’s it. The internet marketers just create them so that their faces can be seen on Google seeps. But less and less people are actually spending time in G+. Again, business establishments do not wish to leave an opportunity to avoid Google because of more of its influence than for fun or engagement socially with the audience.

        Great article by the way..

    • Serzedo

      Nice to meet you!

      I only use Google+, left Facebook after 2 months of using Google+ . I have way more people on my circles than I had on Facebook, the content I want to see is way more selected and filtered than on Facebook.

      For me Facebook is just a past, and if only my family uses Facebook, that’s no excuse not to use Google+, because when there is a post that I want them to know, I just share with there circle also and click on “Send email” to them. 😉

  • Scotty the Menace

    It’s amazing what a big helping of blackmail can accomplish, isn’t it?

    Google says, “Join G+ or we won’t list you in our searches” and everyone bends over. That, of course was before they signed you up whether you wanted it or not.

    I have zero respect for Google, whose legendary corporate motto of “Don’t be evil” is now just a sadly ironic joke.

    • Marc

      Imagine that, a company promoting its own products. For shame.

      Good luck with Bing.

  • Sarbjit Singh

    You’re right that google has deeply integrated google+ like services in web similarly it has been integrated in our daily life and we can’t live without it.

  • Sanket Patel

    It really very great changes in the social networks users. Google+ is the second use social site after facebook. It more efficiency with integrated representing criteria of the business.

  • Jonathon

    Adam (above) is bang on. Pretty much anyone with a Gmail account has, at one time or another, clicked on the button asking them to sign up for Google+. Many have never logged in again. The fact that they have a high number of users simply means that their products are so integrated that you can’t be part of one without being signed up to another.

    Sure it can’t be ignored, but it’s not all that people say it is.

    • Marc

      Actually the report specifically says the numbers are based on users who contributed to the network, (sharing, posting, +1’ing). Total users are reporting much higher which would account for what you are thinking.

  • software guy

    If you take in consideration the activity they get, Twitter is doing much better. Google+ still has to work a bit to get everything right… but it’s going to be amazing how much power all the google products will get if they manage to collect so much data about individuals.

  • Patrick

    Pretty interesting that at the time I’m writing this comment, this article has 405 tweets, 135 likes and 119 G+. Looks like G+ is in third and Twitter is a clear 1st.

    • Marc

      Twitter always blows the doors off every network in terms of those numbers. That just goes to show you that those numbers represent how users use each network more than how many are on there, unless you are now of the belief that Twitter has more active users than FB.

  • Dan

    “Google search engine results will be reprioritized to more favorably rank content that has been +1′ed or shared using the Google share/like widget or created and/or shared by people in one of your Google+ circles. ”

    So now Google is going to force all of us to become members of Google +. Hmmmmm…

  • Keith Gilmore

    Very insightful and good news Michelle! 🙂 I was actually at the Traffic & Conversion Summit 2 weeks in SF, where Guy Kawasaki referred to his prediction about Google+ and how it was “poo-pooed” by about as many people as his prediction about Apple back in the 80’s – hmmm… 🙂

  • Pete

    It would be interesting to see what the level of engagement on Google+ is; but for a long time it’s been my personal opinion that Twitter is an overrated service. The only people in my own circles that that actively use it are media and digital marketing people – and that’s a pretty small circle in the greater scheme of things here in South Africa. Google striding ahead with its integrated suite…

  • Tina

    It is surprising that Google+ was able to surpass Twitter in such a short amount of time. I agree with Pete’s comment that the only people that I know are using G+ are media and digital marketers. The way that Google has setup G+ they almost force you to integrate it into your browsing. I know several companies have G+ profiles setup but I’m not sure how active they are on it.

  • James

    Total rubbish, there is NO WAY google plus has more active users than twitter, google must be using their gmail logins as the number of google plus users. Google will keep google plus because long term they want to incorporate everything into google plus (google docs, youtube, etc) and offer it as a bootable webOS, its a step in their long term plan

    but to say that they are bigger than twitter? total rubbish

    • Marc

      The independent reports (which this article is based on ) specifically said it was users who did something on the network(shared, commented, +1’d) over the span of a month. That doesn’t necessarily mean more active users by other definitions such has how many people check it every day (in which I am sure Twitter is still ahead).

      Yet unless you expected G+ to overcome all other networks all at once (which would be foolish) you’d need to consider that if it is indeed going to grow into a real competitor it will need to take steps. Getting its total user base in these high numbers is a bg step even if it doesnt mean what you think it does. Getting these users more active is yet another. But its 20 months old and its already this big which is huge. Facebook took over 4 years to even reach MySpace levels, Every indication is that if it continues at this pace it will leave Twitter in the dust. Give it a few years and it might give FB a challenge. Time will tell..

      • Josh Thompson

        Facebook and Twiiter have similar buttons integrated into websites, when users click those buttons they’re counted as active users. Not to mention Facebook continues to track users when they’re away from Facebook and in some cases when they’re logged off. What is really helping Google+ are the Business users. Twiiter is barely hanging with Youtube.