Report: Google+ Now 2nd-Biggest Social Network Worldwide

google+ logoGoogle+ 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.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Features & Analysis | Google: Google+ | Social Media Marketing | Statistics: Market Share | Statistics: Popularity & Usage | Top News | Twitter: Statistics


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Marketing Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Max Minzer

    I don’t believe this new number from GlobalWebIndex. I do think that G+ will keep growing but it’s not 343mil there now if you were following trends for the last year or so… Not sure why Vic re-shared a G+ post with these stats on his profile last week.

  • Manny Gasal™ ♥

    One aspect should be considered is the quality of its users.

    Are they always using it? How frequent? There is a possibility users will just register and leave their accounts dormant, and then they’ll go back to their former twitter or Facebook accounts, or whatever social networking sites that is.

    Nevertheless, every social network site is a work in progress.
    Social networking sites just have to be user- friendly , fun and useful, so that
    people will continue using them.

  • Cory Grassell

    Great job, Google+. That is, if your goal is to attract a user to register, then remain content that his/her profile remains in existence, albeit dormant. I highly doubt that Google+’s effectiveness, engagement levels, and share quality are up there with the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Try again.

  • Maggie Johnson

    I don’t believe GlobalWebIndex’s stats. Google seems to be trying incorporate Google+ into all their products, and many people may be considered active users, when they are definitely not. One article I read, said a profile was considered an “active” Google+ user if it spent 7 minutes on Google+ a month. 7 minutes a month is nothing; that could be accidentally clicking on + in the navigation when using Google to search. A lot more information needs to be put out for me to believe Google+ will really be surpassing Twitter as the 2nd biggest social network.

  • David S Freid

    I just started using the G+ and am starting hear the buzz about some other G applications to be integrated that will make this hard to pass on…

  • CandleForex

    This does not surprise me. We like Google+ because it is a nice clean and simple interface with less spam.

  • Alan

    GlobalWebIndex’s method is flawed! If you are logged into gmail and send an email or you are logged in a do a search they consider this Social Activity. There is no chance that this is true Social Activity!

    If they counted sharing images with friends, commenting on a friends update, etc etc then that would be a true indication of Social Activity.

    G+ only has SEO nerds, Industry Professionals and Google employee’s that are truly active in the above mentioned sense.

    If measured by true social activity G+ would be close to the smallest. Hell people are even dumping there youtube accounts en-mass because they are sick of G+ popup!

    Wonder who comissioned the study and how independent GlobalWebIndex really is.

  • keaner

    yeah cause sending an email isn’t a social activity /rolls eyes.

  • Alan

    Wow then hotmail must be one awesome social network /rolls eyes also!

  • keaner

    wow, there is no social network tied to hotmail/msn. Go read the linked data which answers your “If they counted sharing images with friends, commenting on a friends update, etc etc” . Then come back and edit your original post so you don’t look so foolish :).

  • Alan

    quite frankly almost anyone I talk to who isn’t an ardent Google fanboy just out and out does not believe your stats regarding G+.

    Do you actually count people checking email and doing searches while logged into google account as Social activity?

  • Alan

    LOL Google fanboys really get their knickers in a knot when someone points out the obvious about G+!

    You sure you aren’t Matt Cutts or Larry Page?
    In disguise your disqus history is hillairious let me give you a run down.

    Google is awesome

  • keaner

    not my fault I can recognize good products. Thank you for summarizing my own feed to me, very helpful.

  • Marc Razia

    You need to do your research. The study referenced specifically states they only counted users who contributed to the site (shared, posted, +1′ed).

    Just because your in denial that G+ is growing doesn’t make it so.

  • Marc Razia

    Facebook counts you as active if you “like” a website or login on any website using FB credentials just to comment, even if you never go the actual FB site. Those in denial that G+ is going don’t even realize the double standard they use. They happily count the millions of FB users with multiple accounts who only use the site to play games but never post anything social as active, but ONLY count G+ users as active if they are posting in the stream. Give me a break.

    All this nonsense about G+ denial is the EXACTLY the same as the Android denial in 2010 when it was mocked for even trying compete with the iPhone. SO much denial then, so much denial now.

  • Marc Razia

    That’s ripe. So in your world the anyone who doesn’t agree with you about G+ growth MUST also think FB sucks and MUST also just be a G+ fanboy. Let me guess, you don’t handle not getting your way very well.

  • Marc Razia

    Just because you don’t believe it doesn’t make it so.

    You really need to read the post in the link below about some of the ridiculous denial about G+ growth because a lot of folks in denial saying things like you just did seem to have no idea what they are talking about.

  • Ana | Traffic Generation Cafe

    I came up with a fun little Slideshare presentation based on this, Matt; hope to make you chuckle:

    Twitter Kaepernicked by Google+?

  • Squarefish

    On casual interviews, Google + seems to be one of the least used social media platform. But when you really think about it, Google + is incorporated in a lot of sites, youtube for one. So Google+ being second isn’t really much of a surprise after all.

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