Stream Social Q1 2013: Facebook Active Usage Booms


The social media landscape is ever-changing and evolving, and some of the trends that we have seen over the past nine months since the release of our Q2 2012 dataset have been fascinating.

These trends are covered in our latest Stream Social Q1 2013 report, and the most significant trends are:

  • A rise in active engagement across all social platforms with Twitter the fastest growing
  • Local social platforms continue their decline around the world with the exception of China and Russia
  • Mobile is playing a massive role in driving real-time active usage of social platforms in all markets
  • Older internet users are also driving social platforms growth globally
  • Google+ remains the number 2 social platform in the world with 359 million monthly active users


Starting with Facebook, the world’s largest social network has seen its total number of active users (defined by those who have used or contributed to the service in the past month) increase by 35% between Q2 2012 and Q1 2013.  Twitter has seen even faster active user growth, and at 44% growth in the same period, is currently the fastest-growing social platform in the world by active users.  Google+ continues to register strong growth as well with its active users base growing by 33% between Q2 2012 and Q1 2013.

The driving forces behind these impressive performances – especially interesting given the evidence of “Facebook Fatigue” we found couple years ago – are two key factors: mobile and older users.

Mobile is by far the main factor, and since Q1 2011, the number of people access the internet via a mobile phone has increased by 60.3% to 818.4 million across the 31 GWI markets.

Further evidence to support the fact that mobile is driving social can be found when we compare the active social platform usage of iOS and Android users to the average. iOS and Android users are significantly more likely to use Facebook, Twitter and Google+ compared to the average internet user around the world. For example, iOS users in Germany, France, the Netherlands, the US,and the UK are nearly twice as likely to use Twitter compared to the average and in Poland, they are four times more likely to use the micro-blogging service.

The impact of older user groups is more limited but still significant. Between Q2 2012 and Q1 2013 Twitter’s fastest growing age demographic was 55 to 64 year olds, registering an increase in active users of 79%. Both Facebook’s and Google+’s fastest growing age demographic was 45 to 54 year olds, growing by 46% and 56% respectively.

Importantly, these trends have increased Facebook’s active user to accounts ratio to 82% while Twitter and Google+ see their active user ratios at 62% and 60% respectively.

It is clear that both the social platforms and the marketers that use them to engage consumers will need to adopt a mobile first strategy in future.

This brings with it significant opportunities for brands to leverage social, mobile, in-store, TV, outdoor, and print using creative, integrated campaigns and engagement strategies.

In my opinion, we are just starting to see the innovation in marketing that will occur due to the constantly connected world that is emerging, and I’m excited about the opportunities and innovations to come!


14 comments on this post

  1. 0.8ight (@08ight) on

    “Google+ remains the number 2 social network in the world with 359 million monthly active users”

    Brett, I guess you meant the number 2 “social platform”… not social network since the number is about the platform, not just

  2. Brett on

    Hi 0.8ight,

    You’re absolutely correct; that was a typo on my part. Thank you for your input!


  3. Sharon Machlis (@sharon000) on

    I’d be a little cautious about those “mobile usage” numbers. According to a Facebook SEC filing, they count people as having actively used FB if their app has checked in for an update — whether or not the user has actually looked at info from Facebook.

    1. Brett on

      Hi Sharon,

      That is an excellent point and something that we often point out ourselves. There is a treasure trove of information in their SEC filings! Furthermore, it is exactly why we believe our numbers are a more accurate reflection of mobile usage of Facebook because we’re actually going out and asking real people about their behaviours in each of the countries we study as part of our own proprietary research study rather than use Facebook’s data stream.

      Thanks for sharing, and keep it up!

  4. John22 on

    The Google numbers should be taken with a pinch of salt and a touch of magic hand waving.. their figures appear to count gmail and Youtube and other platform interaction, we have little to no information on the actual social media engagement numbers within Google+ the social media “network” (I assume much lower than the sound of their trumpets)

    1. Globperu on

      I totally agree with you. It´s said that google “forces” users to participate in google pluss.
      I dont know if this is true, but i´m sure that there is a big number of user that use this only expecting to improve their searchs or positions!

  5. Karllo on

    Hi Brett,

    Can you elaborate on G+’s numbers being overstated as a social “Network” as opposed to if it were considered to be a social “Platform”?



  6. Brett on

    Hi Karllo,

    With regard to what is a “Network” and what is a “Platform”, we use the term “Social Platform” to describe all manner of social media services from social networks (i.e. Facebook) to micro-blogs (i.e. Twitter) to Forums / Message Boards (i.e. Reddit). With regard to Google+, I think that the key distinction to make is between the number of people using the G+ layer (i.e. +1′s, comments, local, single sign-in, etc.) versus those that are actually “in stream” or actively viewing their stream through the Google+ url or app. The interesting thing about Google+ as opposed to Facebook, for example, is that the number of people using the layer is just as important as those who are “in stream” because of how Google+ is driving all of Google’s other services, meaning that brands can leverage Google+ content outside of the Google+ url itself (i.e. through search, maps, gmail, etc). This is something that Facebook cannot do nearly as well.

    I hope that makes sense, and please keep the questions coming!

  7. Attila Gárdos on


    How many people did you inquire about their behaviours and which countries did you study in Stream Social Q1 2013?

    Best regards,

  8. Marcello on

    Hi Attila,

    For this report we’ve taken in consideration interviews from 35.000 respondents in 31 markets.

    I added a slide at the end of the above presentation that highlights the market covered in our research.

    Hope this helps,
    Marcello Mari
    Social Engagement Lead – GlobalWebIndex

  9. Marcel Bernet on

    What is the basis of your data? Do you ask a sample about their login last month? Do you take data provided by e.g. Google?

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