Social Platform Report Series September 2012: Facebook on Track to Hit 2bn

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Sebastian Hedencrona / September 11, 2012

Throughout September we will be launching a series of critical reports that provide the largest independent data source on the planet of mainstream social platforms and services. Post Facebook IPO, the mainstreaming of Twitter, and with Google turning social by stealth, this data has never been so important, regardless of whether you are a marketer, investor or small business.

There are four detailed reports, an executive summary trend report and 5 data downloads that are available to all subscribers now and can be purchased by non-subscribers here. Most of this data is sourced from our Q2 2012 GWI.7 data set, although we have published trend data back to 2009.

You can also explore the preview below, which is now live on Slideshare.

If you would like to source this data customised by your specific target audience, market or business category as a subscriber use the online tool as normal and search for “Social Platforms”, if you are a non-subscriber speak to the globalwebindex team via contact@globalwebindex.net and we will deliver your personalised data on a project basis.

Since GlobalWebIndex launched in 2009, the social media landscape has shifted rapidly and usage has exploded into the mainstream. Today key social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Google+ have supplanted more organic and less organised forms of social media such as blogs or forums and this has driven contribution into the mass market. Today a staggering 70% of internet users have contributed through a service in the last month and 90% own an account.

At the same time social platforms increasingly offer the same or similar features which can no longer be neatly categorised as “Social Networks” or “Micro-blogging” services. As part of this shift, they are evolving from being website URL’s to being a social layer that connects our lives and experiences to the internet no matter where we are. This is epitomised by “like” or “share” buttons, single sign in and Google’s stealth move from search player to social product, weaving together its far reaching services.

These trends have led us to evolve quickly as a research service, and we now track all social platforms (regardless of their core purpose) in a singular view, measuring behaviour and actions on the service across PC, Mobile and Tablet devices. This is the data that underpins our report release in September and is a global first.

Below are some key highlights and expect to see some detailed analysis on our blog through the month.

Key Benchmark Statistics from the Reports:

Facebook: Facebook users are the most active of all the global social platform users with 64% of account owners contributing in the last month via PC, tablet or mobile. Six hundred and fifty-three million people had used the platform in the last month, a 40% increase year-on-year of which 43% (273m) were active via mobile.

Google+: Thanks to integration the rest of the Google product range, G+ has 336m active users, a 58% increase in the past six months. China, India and Indonesia dominate usage and globally 120m active users have shared photos through the service while 108m have hit a +1.

Twitter: Although a staggering 517m users have created an account, only 262m have used the platform in the past month.

Five key trends in social media:

Social media is the internet: Social media is so ingrained into the modern internet experience that a staggering 90% of all internet users now have an account on at least one social service and 70% of them contributed in the past month.

Emerging internet markets dominate growth numbers for the big name social services and the top five markets for owning and being active on social profiles are Indonesia, China, South Korea, Philippines and Russia.

Passive users are transforming social: When social media arrived, it was very much about consumers publishing to the world and peer-to-peer communication. The situation today is shifting rapidly. Increasingly, social media and the social platforms are enabling consumers to follow and stay up to date with people in the public eye. Consequently contribution levels are falling with messaging friends falling 16% from 69% of social network users in Q2 2011.

Social Platform Adoption Trends 2012 finds that on Twitter, although 517m have created an account, only 262m have actively used the platform in the past month and just 48% of these had posted a tweet. On Facebook, 192m of the 845m people who visited Facebook in the past month did not make a single contribution.

As users become more passive over time and increasingly turn to people in the public eye or well-known organisations for interesting content, social will increasingly become a broadcast channel.

Emerging markets will power Facebook onwards and upwards: Facebook continues to demonstrate epic growth, topping 1bn accounts by the end of Q2 2012. Growth is now entirely driven by new users in markets such as Brazil and India, where social media is mass market and internet penetration is growing rapidly. There has been a recent decline in the US and other mature markets such as Sweden, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The relentless growth of emerging internet markets like Brazil, Indonesia and India, will according to our three years of trend data, enable Facebook to hit 1.5bn users by the Q3 2013 and 2bn users by the end of 2014.

Pinterest becomes an international hit: The new star of social has certainly made a massive impact, already signing up 53m active users. This is rapid growth for a product that only came out of beta in August 2012.

This a demonstration of the globalisation of the internet as only 16m of these active users originate in the US, with China (11m), India (8m) and Brazil (1.8m) leading the international growth charge.

Photo sharing dominates social usage: Sharing photos is by far the most important activity on all the devices used by Facebook users. Eight-two per cent of active Facebook desktop PC users have shared via PC, 60% of mobile users via a mobile and 57% of tablet users via a tablet. It outranks messaging friends, posting status updates or sharing links.

This is replicated (at a lower level) in Google+ – where 120m active users have shared photos and is also the second-most important activity in Twitter – 41% – after posting comments on your daily activities, which scored 48%.