The big 3: What social networks really matter

February 12, 2013

There is no doubt that by every possible metric, Facebook is the uncontested king of Social Media and has been for quite some time. Nonetheless, it is starting to show signs of slowing down, and even receding in some markets. So now more than ever it’s important to look at who might take the number two spot if Facebook does indeed continue to falter. But first, let’s have a look at what’s going wrong at Facebook.
1.     Slow to adopt to mobile
Facebook’s slow move into mobile have been well documented and was a great cause of concern to investors as it seemed incapable of transitioning it’s web user base into mobile users and was losing revenue. Fortunately it seems to have righted the ship after blaming it’s woes on a slow HTML5 version of their web app. They have since completely rewritten separate versions for both iOS and Android and their mobile revenue has skyrocketed.
2.     Early adopters
Despite continued growth overall, in certain markets like the UK and Canada, Facebook is actually losing users instead of gaining. This spells bad news for the site since eventually the tail end will follow the same path and eventually their overall numbers will decrease as well.
3.     Security woes
Once the darling of the tech blogger crowd, Facebook started getting a lot of heat for its security practices that didn’t befit a company that holds so much information.
4.     Competition
Facebook once looked like it was destined to rule the web, but after getting battered in its IPO it started to look like just another player after all. This plus all of the above has led to serious competition.
So who is number two anyway? As we said in the introduction, depends on who you ask. First, we’re going to assume that you are from the Western World and immediately exclude any social that are wildly popular parts of Asia, Russia, Latin America and other specific regions. Secondly we’ll ignore any site that crosses multiple categories such as “online video” or “blogging platform”. That leaves us with the sites that are popular globally and are dedicated exclusively to social media. Here they are by significant metric.
2nd position
Largest user base
Twitter or Google+
36% of all Internet users have a Twitter account according to IAB, but a more recent study by Global web index puts Google+ ahead.
Fastest growing user base
Users grew 40% from Q2 2012 to Q4 2012. This is equal to 288 million monthly active users and actually #1 above Facebook in this category now!
Global web index
Most time spent on site
Users spent 1.5 hours a month to Facebook’s 6.75 hours and Twitter’s 21 minutes.
Widget install base
41% of websites had a tweet button
Unique visitors
Again twitter is number two, but LinkedIN has impressive traffic too.
Highest year over year growth in all categories
1,000 percent traffic increase since Nielsen's 2011 poll.
Nielson via CNBC

So as you can see, Facebook and Twitter are a must. But if you’re site is geared towards men or the tech crowd, make your #3 Google+. On the other hand, if it’s women, go for Pinterest. And although we excluded YouTube entirely, that is only because we didn’t consider it a pure social media website. It is hugely important for many businesses!

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