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Google+ Now 2nd-Biggest Social Network Worldwide

Google+ Now 2nd-Biggest Social Network Worldwide

Google+ has passed Twitter and is now the second-biggest social platform worldwide with 343 million active users.

That’s according to a recent report that, frankly, has some confusing claims and stats.

The data is from GlobalWebIndex, a site/service that I can’t claim to have ever heard of before. The company says it does 130,000 Internet usage “interviews” in 31 international markets — covering about 90 percent of the global Internet-using population. We reached out for clarification about the data and how it’s collected earlier today, but the company has yet to reply.

As for the data, GlobalWebIndex says that 25 percent of worldwide Internet users are now active on Google+ at least once a month — second behind Facebook (51 percent), but ahead of YouTube and Twitter (both 21 percent).


GlobalWebIndex defines an active user as one who “used or contributed to” a social network.

The numbers get confusing, at least to me, when GlobalWebIndex says that Twitter is the fastest-growing social platform. The report says

  • Twitter’s active usage grew by 40 percent in 2012 to 288 million users, and
  • Google+ grew by 27 percent to 343 million active users and passed Twitter

Those two statements don’t seem to fit together. If Twitter grew by 40 percent to 288 million active users, it started with about 205 million. If Google+ grew by 27 percent to 343 million, it started with about 270 million active users … which would already put it ahead of Twitter. So, it seems that either the stats or the claim that Google+ just now passed Twitter is wrong.

Nonetheless, it seems inevitable that Google+ will pass Twitter in worldwide usage, if it hasn’t already. Google is building Google+ as a “social layer” into all of its products and services. For the past year, all new Google accounts are also Google+-enabled accounts. And because of how Google+ is baked into so many Google products, you can be an “active” Google+ user without ever visiting Google+.

Google itself recently reported having 135 million “in-stream” users. About two weeks after that, Twitter reported having 200 million active users.

Postscript: Brett Petersen, GlobalWebIndex’s Director of Strategy Consulting, shared an explanation about how the company gathers data that we’ll repost in full.

Please find the details on our research methodology below: 

RESEARCH AND METHODOLOGY The GlobalWebIndex is conducted quarterly and the data collected by self-completion online surveys. The survey is the exact same in every market but is localised by language and local brands where relevant (i.e. asking respondents about local websites only in the relevant markets). The samples themselves are structured using quotas on age, gender, and education levels to ensure that our sample is representative of the internet population in each market. Other than that, the sample is completely random. To that end, all of the research we collect is representative of the internet population in each market and not the national population as a whole. Furthermore, we never survey the same respondent twice within a 12 month period.

This approach provides both trend data and large local samples. This coverage is unique and we are the only global data source who survey multiple times a year, providing the same data in every single market that is operated. We only use data that we survey and do not published or provide any tracking data or third party statistics.

HOW WE RECRUIT RESPONDENTS We recruit internet users aged 16-64 from the most highly respected research panels in the market research industry including Lightspeed Research, uSamp, Toluna, YouGov and GMI. Our panel partners are responsible for the recruitment and incentive provision for the respondents in each market.

ENSURING THE HIGHEST QUALITY DATA The survey is always served in the local language and incorporates many leading techniques to guarantee high-quality data, such as rotating questions, sections and options, utilising new question techniques like “drag and drop” and measuring response patterns to remove respondents who complete inaccurately or too quickly.

We believe that, despite all the advances in analytics, big data analysis and social listening, there are still impossible challenges in creating clear and simple metrics that cover internet access across all devices, enable segmentation by very specific consumer types and provide global reach. Add to this the growing need to track and measure opinions, attitudes, needs and motivations to support sophisticated strategy; consumer research is increasingly the only way to do this. This is why we work with some of the biggest internet brands in the world.

The data is frequently benchmarked against other forms of data including audience measurement services, publisher data and local market research.

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