Having blasted through an impressive one billion active users last October, it will likely come as no surprise to anyone reading this blog that Facebook is the biggest social network on the planet, and will likely remain that way for some time.
That is, after all, why they called that movie *The* Social Network. But which social media platform occupies the number two spot? And where does Twitter fit in all of this?
Brace yourselves. According to the latest data, it’s Google+ that has the highest penetration rate of active users amongst all social networks worldwide, with its 26 percent penetration rate good enough for second place behind Facebook’s other-worldly (spoiler: it’s this world) 51 percent.
YouTube ranks third at 25 percent, Twitter is fourth at 22 percent and Chinese social networks Sina Weibo and Qzone, with a 21 percent penetration rate each, tie for fifth.
Couple of things about this data, which comes via GlobalWebIndex, who are doing fine work. One, I’m still not 100 percent comfortable calling YouTube a social network. Sure, you can post messages and share stuff with friends, but it isn’t social like Facebook and Twitter have defined the space. And if YouTube qualifies, where’s Reddit? Surely, with its 400 million uniques and 37 billion pageviews in 2012, it’s at least on a par with Pinterest’s 4 percent global share?
Two, I just not buying Google+’s data. Call me a naysayer, call me a hack, call me a taxi, but I just cannot believe that 26 percent of internet users worldwide are active on Google+. Do they have accounts on Google+ that they were automatically signed up because they use other, popular Google properties? Or did they legitimately sign up for a Google+ account because of the hype, but never go back, and now each time they login to Gmail, or YouTube, and get presented with the +1 button at the top of the screen, it counts as an active Google+ use, and therefore user?
Perhaps. It’s probably no coincidence that Google+’s 26 percent penetration rate is very similar to “sister site” YouTube’s 25 percent. Which, of course, taken standalone, would mean Google+ has a 1 percent penetration rate all by itself. Which, again of course, is too far the other way.
Split the difference? Sure. I think an actual penetration rate of 13-14 percent is more like it for Google+, which would place it about ninth overall. And even that might be a bit generous. Is Google+ *really* more active than LinkedIn? Who knows. And unless all the social media CEOs get together, openly share their analytics data and publish it freely and without prejudice, I’m not sure we ever truly will. Until then, you can continue to colour me a healthy skeptic.