Is Google+ Really the Second Most Popular Social Media Platform?

There’s been a huge shift in the social media landscape. It’s no longer the duopoly that we’ve assumed it was for so long. The third big social media platform has truly arrived and it’s blown Twitter out of the water. Or at least that’s what it looks like.

The headline result of GlobalWebIndex’s latest report on Social Media usership is the finding that Google+ has overtaken Twitter and become the world’s second most popular social network. That’s the same Google+ that was referred to as a ‘ghost town’ just last year. In terms of active users in the latter quarter of last year Twitter had 288m compared to Google+’s 343m.

social media platform

Those figures should surprise no one considering the level of integration Google has brought to it’s social platform. Google+, in one form or another, is just about everywhere these days. It’s in your search results, on blog posts and in your email. It’s hard to escape. It’s also becoming a vital SEO and content marketing tool. This news has been reported as bad news for Twitter, or evidence of a shift in the market. In truth, it’s evidence that Google have found the way to leverage their search power in the social marketplace, integration.

‘Active’ is a Loose Term

That same integration may also point to a problem with these figures. GlobalWebIndex’s studies try to provide an accurate picture by using ‘active’ users only. There may be over a billion accounts on Facebook but that doesn’t mean that a billion people use Facebook every day. ‘Active’ user figures give a much clearer reflection of the size of a social media community. But these figures might not do that anymore.

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Because Google+ is everywhere. Whenever you watch a video on YouTube, review an app on Google Play or sign in to your Gmail you are likely to be signed in to Google+. You can affect your Google+ account in a variety of ways without ever visiting your profile or checking your home stream. You effectively become an ‘active’ Google+ user simply by owning a Google+ account and using the Internet.

All of which makes it very difficult to nail down actual active usership figures for Google+. According to GlobalWedIndex, around 25% of the global Internet population used Google+ in the final quarter of last year. That’s one in four. Look around you; do you honestly believe one in every four people online use Google+?

Time For A Marketing Re-Think?

The headlines relating to these results imply that Google+ is now the second most popular social network, which must have come as a shock for marketers who don’t actively use Google+. If you don’t give it enough time, it sounds like you’re missing a huge chunk of the market. So should you start piling a lot of your time and effort into Google’s social media platform?

Yes and no. Google+ is definitely an important part of social media strategy, its showing huge growth in popularity and functionality. It may become the centerpiece of social media marketing strategies, but it’s not there yet. Its biggest value at this point is its link to Google’s search results. All indicators suggest that strong Google+ activity equals higher SERP appearance, so it does have a part to play.

But the term ‘second most popular’ social media platform implies that it offers the second largest potential marketplace. That seems unlikely. Twitter is very much a household name, even for non-users of social media. It’s heavily used by celebrities and influencers with access to huge followings. Google+ on the other hand is still finding its feet in mainstream consciousness. It’s something most people have heard of but it’s far from essential.

These figures show that Google has been very smart in it’s integration and positioning of Google+ as an integral part of Internet usage. They’ve made Google+ a background part of online life. But, so far, they haven’t made it a truly influential social media platform like Facebook or Twitter. It is growing in importance and, for it’s potential SEO benefits alone, it is a worthwhile enterprise. Just don’t move it above Twitter just yet.

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Discuss This Article

Comments: 10

  • ani says:

    I can’t agree with that. For me youtube is much more used than google+. The fact that there are so many google+ accounts is becouse of the gmail and youtube accounts. That doesn’t mean that people are using them – they just have the accounts. When you look at from where people are mostly getting information when it comes to social media – it is facebook, youtube and twitter. They are the most used, no matter how many accounts are there.

    • Jay says:

      Youtube was separated out for this case study and not included in the social media metrics. You’ll see above they were the “third” largest. However interaction through email and search results is no doubt a major driver in how they got to #2. They’re a difficult social media outlet to measure given they’re more of a tool than a social hangout.

  • Mr says:

    I am sorry, but if you don’t use google+ as a marketer, then it is your ignorance. Google+ is widely known and its adoption increases day by day considering the popularity of other google products.

  • Marc says:

    The recent stats are only users who contribute to the site at least once a month, they say nothing about how often during the month. So its cmopeltley reaonsable that these numbers show G+ is growing fast even with usage but still has not quite caught up to just how much Twitter is being used. However, the point that G+ is growing this fast is what matters. Another year like this and G+ will have left Twitter in the dust. I’d expect it will be a couple years before its in the same conversation with FB.

  • Regardless of how many eyeballs are on your Google + content, it still provides unparalleled value when it comes to search engine rankings, especially on Google Search. Any links posted on Google + send a signal for Google to crawl your site for new content, so that content shows up almost instantly in search results.

  • m surprised…I have seen a lot less action on G+ than other networks, but this was a good read..thanks

  • Krithika says:

    There are a couple of points to consider. One, when only looking at public posts on Google+ it may seem that not enough activity is taking place or that not often. The other, which seems a possible emerging trend is that people are gravitating more towards personal networks such as Path, where the connections are limited. Google+ provides that ability to selectively engage with a few users or with many and publicly so content can be discovered. To me, there are so many possibilities of how this platform can and should be used. I don’t think one can dismiss it for the lack of hashtags related to super bowl or make a conclusive statement that because there weren’t enought publicly shared content it is not a thriving community.

  • Warren says:

    While I admit, I’ve only dipped a toe into the Google + waters compared to the investment in both Facebook and Twitter I’ve made I still don’t see the activity in Google + that I do in other platforms. I think they need a couple more years to actually earn that headline.

  • Richard says:

    Ive been using Google+ for a few months now. I still use Facebook more, but I have noticed a shift in use. I added a ton of people/communities I’m interested in and it pops up on my feed. The circles is great o separate certain friends, from co-workers and family, although I only have 1 family member at this time. They are all on Facebook, but thats ok. It’s a nice escape from them.
    Where Google+ comes in really handy is their Hangout feature. I love it and more friends are using it. Their Messenger is also great. Even if friends dont post, they are on Messenger chatting away.

  • Roman says:

    Nobody needs google+.. I will never use Facebook or Google+ because the don’t let me see free movies and music!!! the only social network where I can upload listen, share FREE music and FREE video! ANd I don’t care of friends hahaha

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