Data collected in GWI.8 (Q4 2012) demonstrates the continued shift in usage from localised social platforms to global ones with huge growth for Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. The fastest growing network in 2013 in terms of “Active Usage” (defined as “Used or contributed to in the past month”) 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.
For those who follow the GlobalWebIndex regularly, it is important to note that between Q2 and Q4 2012 we revised our universe figures, based on newly available public data on country level internet population aged 16 to 64. This revision has also been applied to historical numbers and has lowered the figures slightly down, but proportionally, the numbers remain the same as in previous iterations of the research. The trends we’ve seen remain and are becoming ever clearer as we move forward.
Facebook battles back against “Facebook fatigue”
Something we’re seeing in our initial findings is an return to growth for Facebook. We now estimate that Facebook has 903m accounts across 31 markets among 16-65 year olds. If we scale this up to the remaining 10% of global internet users we do not yet survey and factor in accounts for under-16s and over-65s our estimates fall in line with Facebook’s claimed 1 billion user figure.
2012 saw Facebook shrug off the potential for Facebook fatigue and saturation in a spectacular way with active users growing 33% to 693m users globally. Watch out for an in-depth post on this later this week where we’ll dig deeper into the numbers.
Google+ grows to become 2nd largest social platform globally
Google+, who despite being branded a failure or ghost town by large portions of the media, grew in terms of active usage by 27% to 343m users to become the number 2 social platform. Interestingly for Google, YouTube (not previously tracked by us as a social platform) comes in at number 3, demonstrating the immense opportunity of linking Google’s services through the G+ social layer. This is also a key indication of why Google+ integrated with the Google product set is so key to the future of search and the internet. We’ve got more coming on Google+ later this week as well.
Local social platforms in marked decline
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.
The case of China is interesting, but not unexpected. Social networks / services grew massively from 2009 to 2012 and some saturation is expected despite China being the world’s most socially active market. There are, however, some other reasons for declines in active usage that we have identified:
There are many networks, and it’s inevitable, despite China’s huge population and growing internet penetration that such a large number of mass market networks cannot be maintained;
Growing government clamp down with real names and phone number becoming the required standard for signing up;
Shifting of usage to more informal social media including blogs and forums, where privacy is easier to maintain;
Growth of apps and mobile;
Growth of international networks through proxy servers, VPNs, access through multi-national company networks and mobile apps.