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GlobalWebIndex identifies rise of passive social network user 

Emerging market growth will drive Facebook to 2 billion accounts by end-2014; Pinterest becomes an international hit with fans in China, India and Brazil

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | September 10, 2012

GlobalWebIndex, the world’s largest and most detailed on-going global research study into consumer behaviour online, has published its latest report Social Platform Adoption Trends 2012. The results highlight new trends in the way consumers utilise social media platforms and role platforms such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter play in their lives.

The analysis is based on interviews with more than 152,000 individuals in 31 key internet markets over seven separate waves of research. The latest fieldwork took place in Q2 2012.

Facebook: Facebook users are the most active of all the global social platform users with 64 per cent 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 per cent increase year-on-year of which 43 per cent (273 million) were active via mobile.

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

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

Five key trends

Social media is the internet: Social media is so ingrained into the modern internet experience that a staggering 90 per cent of all internet users now have an account on at least one social service and 70 per cent 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, the 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 per cent from 69 per cent of social network users in Q2 2012. 

Social Platform Adoption Trends 2012 finds that on Twitter, although 517 million have created an account, only 262 million have actively used the platform in the past month and just 48 per cent of them had posted a tweet. On Facebook, 192 million of the 845 million 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 media will increasingly become a broadcast channel.

Emerging markets will power Facebook onwards and upwards: Facebook continues to demonstrate epic growth, topping 1 billion 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 1.5 billion users by the Q3 2013 and 2 billion users by the end of 2014.

Pinterest becomes international hit: The new star of social has certainly made a massive impact, already signing up 53 million 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 16 million 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 per cent of mobile users via a mobile and 57 per cent 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 120 million active users have shared photos and is also the second-most important activity in Twitter – 41 per cent – after posting comments on your daily activities, which scored 48 per cent.

Tom Smith, founder of GlobalWebIndex, said, “Mass market social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ have truly enabled all internet users to become social. They are globalising the internet by providing localised services that users across the world are adopting as their default internet experience. Fast-growing internet markets will continue to drive user base growth and will define how social services are shaped into the future. Despite this globalisation in platforms, local trends remain distinct, with every country showing different patterns of usage. It’s never been more important for brands and marketers to understand their users.”

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