Facebook, as of June 2014, had 900 million unique monthly users across the globe and in first-world countries, upwards of 75% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 report using various social media sites on a regular basis, according to statistics. Italy and Spain report the highest usage within this age range, coming in at 91% and for those between the ages of 30 and 49, at least 50% report regular use. Surprisingly, between 20-25% of those over the age of 50 also report regular use of some sort of social media site. Although the general concept of ‘wealth’ does not seem to play too big of a role in the popularity of social media use – the general financial standing of individual countries as whole, does. What does that mean? While first-world countries have their fair share of residents living at or below the respective poverty lines, government funded programs and institutions make it possible for nearly anyone to connect to the internet and use social media sties. Public schools, public libraries, internet cafes and a host of other establishments make it possible for anyone to access the internet, despite their financial situation. This does not hold true, however, in countries that are considered poor as a whole. In these countries, individual wealth would make all the difference.
While Facebook remains a popular venue for personal interaction as well as business and advertising platforms, Twitter seems to be more popular amongst those promoting business and a certain brand. Although individuals like celebrities frequent Twitter and have the most subscribers, big businesses like airlines, news agencies, established brands (like Johnson & Johnson) and even up-and-coming writers report impressive numbers of subscribers. The limited amount of information on an individual permitted on Twitter profiles, as well as the limited amount of information that can be presented in any single Tweet, makes it the perfect place for people and businesses to broadcast specifics without the soapbox-like platform Facebook provides.
LinkedIn is all about business and who you are connected to, literally. LinkedIn allows users to search for jobs, post resumes and discuss business-related successes and endeavors. It has become a popular place for people to build working relationships in their area of business, and expand their horizons to find and work with the skilled people they need to succeed. With 255 million unique users each month, LinkedIn comes in third place for social media popularity – but perhaps first place for usefulness.
Finally there is Google+. Google+ simply doesn’t have the ‘household’ appeal of sites like Facebook and Twitter, but many people do use it. One hundred and twenty million unique monthly users prove that Google+ has found success, but they are not at all on the same playing field as Facebook, as witnessed by the mere fraction of users that utilize it. Like Facebook, Google+ offers platforms for individuals, businesses, networking and advertising, but Google+ is decidedly less user-friendly than platforms like Facebook. There is something about Google and its various platforms, Gmail included, that simply miss the mark. Perhaps they just have too much going on and their layouts simply aren’t as intuitive as those created by independents like Facebook, or megastars like Apple.
While Facebook has become more complex and multi-layered over the years, it was a gradual change that users could flow with. Twitter has always been very simplistic and LinkedIn is quite similar in style to Facebook, although their purposes differ greatly. Google+ is more complicated and was born that way, requiring any intended user to really tour the platform before attempting to use it. Not necessarily good for business – and less likely to attract a broad range of users (age-wise). This is perhaps why, when you do factor in Pinterest, Google+ comes in fifth place – although for this brief study we said fourth.