Twitter is the world’s fastest-growing social platform

twitter bird and speech bubble

Twitter is the world’s fastest-growing social platform according to a comprehensive new study. 

Research conducted by Global Web Index found a whopping 40 percent rise in active Twitter users over the second half of 2012. Facebook came a close second, followed by Google +, VKontake (a Russian Facebook clone), Sonico (the Mexican take on the popular Facebook formula) and LinkedIn.

Somewhat surprisingly, the much-touted Pinterest and Tumblr only showed minor growth.

The study, which covered 31 countries, found that 21 percent of the global online population now uses Twitter at least once a month. That equates to roughly 288 million active users per month – a 714 percent rise since 2009.

There are a number of explanations for the surge including improvements in mobile phone technology, older demographics coming on board (there was a 116 percent increase in users aged 45-54 in the second half of 2012) and mass media integration.

For example, it’s now increasingly common for television shows and radio stations to ask their audience for feedback or run competitions via Twitter.

Also of note is the finding that Twitter user engagement rose by nine percent in the second half of 2012. 59 percent of account holders are now active on a monthly basis.

The data also suggests that people are using the microblogging site differently than they did a year ago. Only 51 percent of active users sent a tweet in the past month. That indicates that Twitter is becoming a passive source of news and information for account holders – rather than an outlet for witticisms and personal commentary.

Interestingly for business owners, Twitter is becoming more commercial. Growth areas for users include “posting comments about brands”, “asking friends about products” and “buying a product or service”.

Global Web Index concludes that “these changes in usage underline the changing nature of Twitter… from a peer-to-peer publishing platform to the social infrastructure that links our internet experience across multiple devices and allows us to use the internet more efficiently.”