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GlobalWebIndex report suggests that Twitter is losing ground on Google+

What would you say is the second most popular social media network? Most people would probably take a punt on Twitter, after all everyone has heard of it – even those who aren’t subscribers. However, that isn’t the case according to the latest study by GlobalWebIndex. Its report suggests that coming in at number two in the social media platform stakes is Google+. Google+: really? Well, statistics never lie. Or do they?

GlobalWebIndex’s statistics show that Google+ has overtaken Twitter and become the second largest and most influential social media platform after the big one – Facebook. This time last year any such suggestion would have been ridiculed, as Google’s social media platform was struggling to pull in the numbers. Things, however, appear to have changed dramatically. According to GlobalWebIndex Google+ pulled in 343 million active users in the last quarter of 2012, whilst Twitter could only manage a miserly 288 million. But how can that be explained? Why is such a globally renowned platform like Twitter being out-performed by a relative newcomer?

Well, part of the answer lies in integration. Google has integrated its social media platform effectively. So much so that we all come across it in one form or other every day, be that in blog posts, search results or emails. It’s so well integrated that it is now considered to be an essential SEO and content marketing tool. Whatever else Google might be; it’s ruthlessly efficient at getting the greatest leverage out of its search power in the social marketplace.

The other part of the answer lies in how you choose to define ‘active’ users. GlobalWebIndex has attempted to paint a realistic picture of the current state of the social media market by only basing its results on the behaviour of active users. Active user figures give a clearer and more accurate indication of the size of a social media community. That sounds reasonable on the face of it:  Facebook has over a billion users, but not all of these are active users logging in every day of the year. But is the use of ‘active only users’ truly reflective? Does it paint an accurate picture?

Well, actually no it doesn’t. The huge numbers posted for the last quarter of 2012 could be explained to some extent by Google’s massive representation on the web. You can watch a video on YouTube, or sign in to a Gmail account and affect your Google+ account without ever visiting your profile or checking your home stream. Effectively you can become an active Google+ user simply by having a Google+ account and surfing the web.

So should Twitter be looking over its shoulder? Has the old social media ordered been changed for ever? Well, not quite. The influence of Google+ is growing, and growing quicker than anyone would’ve anticipated, but there is still plenty of fight left in Twitter yet. In term of influence Google+ still has some way to go before it can match the influence of the social media’s big players; Facebook and Twitter. From a marketing point of view it is becoming increasingly important, but it hasn’t yet reached the point where it is viewed as a marketing essential.

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