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Government, Take Notice: Google+ Overtakes Twitter as 2nd Most Used Social Media

Google+ has gotten a reputation for being a barren wasteland devoid of active users, but according to a new GlobalWebIndex report, Google+ has overtaken Twitter as the 2nd most used social media platform in the world after Facebook. This was a big shock to me, so I did some exploring.

When you look into the report it shows that Twitter was actually the fastest growing social media site, but its daily users (21% of internet users) was lagging behind Google+’s daily user rate of 25%. What has caused this spike in Google+ usage? Google+’s growth comes from many areas outside the normal markets of the US and Europe. This could be attributed to far more global internet coverage than when Facebook and Twitter were formed, or possibly due to the rise in Android popularity worldwide. With Google’s mobile platform rapidly increasing in popularity, Google (along with Google+) has an instant global presence. Google+ is completely integrated into most of the services Google provides, adding even more incentive for government to utilize this platform.

If you look at what user’s are doing on the specific social media sites, it seems as if what Google+ users are doing is more in line with what brands (and governments) want to see from followers. Facebook and Twitter users use the sites mostly for sharing photos and posting about their daily activities. What’s happening on Google+ though, when viewed alongside Facebook and Twitter, is that 45% of users report to have having “shared article links”, “followed a brand”, or “clicked +1s or likes.” These activities are the most valuable to advertisers, businesses, and brands… but where can government fit in?

In Utah, the state government has a robust social media presence and has recently seen a spike in Google+ popularity. While their Facebook usage is much stronger than that of Google+, they have noticed the interaction with constituents to be much different. Where Facebook is known for “likes” and minor comments, Google+ has seen much more collaboration and personal interaction than is available on Facebook. The functionality of Google+ has also been steadily been improving, especially with the integration of Google Apps for Government. These apps allow easier internal collaboration with things like Google Docs, calendars, and video chats. With almost extreme integration of services, collaboration and engagement becomes that much easier.

There’s no doubt that Google+ is still lagging behind Facebook in content, but they’re making a big gain. As Google slowly introduces more features for Google+ it is likely to see greater usage, something that governments and agencies shouldn’t take for granted. There is always new ways to engage constituents with social media, but it takes time and persistence.

So where do government agencies fit into this new, resurgent Google+ user group? Does your agency currently use Google+ or do you have any examples of those that are ahead of the curve?

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David Pierpont

Still not buying into it. Having a presence is one thing, but putting too much effort into a robust G+ plan I think is still immature for U.S. focused agencies. I think you can get just as much lift with good content on indexable sites. Maybe for State and alike that are looking to engage with the global population, but I would still tread slowly before fully investing. Of course I reserve right to change mind in 6 months. 🙂

Kate M. Long

Google + does allow for a more professional connection that is a little more flexible than LinkedIn, but I found that Google + wasn’t as intuitive as I expected it to be when I initially tried it (maybe I expected it to be more like Facebook). Either way I find myself sort of rooting for Google + to make a comeback and maybe government agencies are the ones to get it there.

Bryce Bender

I agree with you David- at this time I’m not sure a complete Google+ plan is right at this time, it’ll be interesting to see if anyone tries to be out ahead of the curve and start utilizing Google+.

Kate- I thought the same thing, I guess I wanted Google+ to feel more like Facebook and it wasn’t. This may be Google’s plan, maybe hoping for Facebook to fade away or for Google+ to be used for a completely different reason. Once individuals start using it more frequently it should be more useful.

FD Maguire

This conversation is really not completely unless you take into account Google+ Communities that released in December. To a number of us, we just could not accomplish what we needed with Google+ and Circles alone.

With Google+ Communities, it changes the landscape to some degree for any comparison to Facebook, Twitter, & Linked. YMMV and different platforms work better for different groups.

Anil Chawla

It is definitely interesting to see how Google continues to encourage Google+ adoption via integration with all of its other valuable services. For example, by requiring the use of Google+ in order to create a YouTube account. This is of course double-sided: while Google+ usage as a primary social network may be increasing, the “active user” number might also be skewed as a side effect of its integration with everything else. I also think that some of the higher quality user behavior may due to the fact that the audience on Google+ is still the “early adopter” crowd. Nonetheless, Google+ is definitely a network to keep an eye on, and there are certainly audiences and use cases today for which it is better suited.