Last year, many people dismissed Google’s Google+ social network as a “virtual ghost town.” That was then. This is now. According to GlobalWebIndex, Google+, with 343-million active users, has become the second largest social network globally. As Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior VP of engineering, observed, “That is a lot of ghosts”
Facebook is still the biggest of the social networks by a large margin. By GlobalWebIndex’s count Facebook has almost 700-million active users. The research group defines active users as those who used or contributed to a site in the past month.
All three of the major global social networks, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter are growing by leaps and bounds. “Data collected in GWI.8 (Q4 2012) demonstrates the continued shift in usage from localized social platforms to global ones with huge growth for Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. The fastest growing network in 2013 in terms of “Active Usage” was Twitter which grew 40% to 288m across our 31 markets (approximately 90% of global Internet population). 21% 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.”
Where is Google+’s growth coming from? It’s not at the expense of Facebook or Twitter. Instead, like them, Google+ is cannibalizing smaller, local social networks. “The growth in the large, global social platforms is coming broadly at the expense of local services like MeinVz, Hyves, Copains d’Avant. Even more interestingly, we are seeing a large decline across the board in local Chinese services with Tencent Weibo, Kaixin, Sina Weibo and QZone all declining substantially, up to 57% in the case of Tencent Weibo.”
Looking ahead, it appears that the global networks, led by Facebook, Google+, Twitter and YouTube, will all continue to grow at the expense of the local social networks. Will Google+ eventually catch-up and pass Facebook? Possibly, but it won’t be soon. Even with privacy concerns and annoying notifications, Facebook is continuing to maintain its dominant position.