According to U.K.-based TrendStream’s Global Web Index, the number of active Google+ users in the fourth quarter of 2012 was 343 million. Facebook is the largest social network by far, with roughly 700 million active users and nearly 1 billion total accounts.
Put another way, 51 percent of the global Internet population visits Facebook monthly, compared with 25 percent who use Google+ each month, the report said.
YouTube, which is also owned by Google, is the third-largest social network. Twitter ranks No. 4. It was the fastest mover in terms of active users, growing by 40 percent, to 288 million active users, from fourth-quarter 2011 to the fourth quarter of 2012.
The Global Web Index measured active users, ages 16 to 64, meaning they’ve used or contributed to the social network in the last month.
It’s important to note that studies such as these vary widely, because social networks don’t share their internal figures with analytics firms. Last month for instance, one report ranked Google+ the fifth-most-popular social network based on unique visitors, whereas another report didn’t rank Google+ in the top seven.
The NBC affiliate in the Bay Area offered a suggestion for Google+’s surge:
“The numbers may also have been goosed by Google's new policy of entwining its services with the social network, such as when a person signs up for a Gmail account he or she is also given a Google+ profile.”Either way, the Global Web Index study prompts the idea that it might be time to (re)consider Google+.
Here are three reasons why Google+ is worth exploring:
Search results. This could stand as the only reason to join and be reasonably active on Google+. Having an account on this social network can boost your search results, whether you are managing a brand’s online presence or your own.
Group hangouts. A Google+ Hangout is a group video chat, in which up to nine people—plus a host—take part. Hangouts offer a way to create panel discussions, video conferencing, staff meetings, and more.
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