Google has done the unthinkable and hit a double jackpot. Dismissed as a ghost-town, Google+ has come from behind to overtake Twitter as the second most popular social networking website, according to a GlobalWebIndex report for Q4 2012. The report also mentions that even YouTube, another of Google’s properties, has raced ahead of Twitter to gain the third place for the last quarter.

Google+ has risen from the ashes to grow in terms of active usage by 27 percent to 343 million users to become the second most used social networking platform. YouTube, not tracked by GWI in the past, has come up to the third position on its debut.

No prizes for guessing that Facebook still rules the roost with 693 million users globally, with a growth rate of 33 percent. Clearly, Google+ with only half of Facebook’s power has a lot of catching up to do. While the post does not mention the exact number of YouTube users, the chart pins the number at somewhere around 280 million.

Active users of popular social networking websites (Image Credits: GlobalWebIndex)

Active users of popular social networking websites (Image Credits: GlobalWebIndex)

Observers who have been seeing the growth of Google+ over the past year would be flummoxed over its sudden rise to the number two position, but one needs to bear in mind that this report revolves around numbers of active users. Thanks to Google+’s social integration, it doesn’t take much to be an active user of the platform.

If one has a Google ID, it takes just one click to join Google+. The integration of the social networking website also runs deep, with even YouTube and Android Play Store reviews now requiring a Google+ ID. What is more, the dying Google social platform Orkut too integrates Google+ profile now.

Google had integrated the use of Google+ profiles in order to post reviews on the Google Play Store in November. While the move was said to be in order to curb spam and bogus reviews on the Play Store, the underlying factor was the deeper integration of Google+ in a user’s daily life.

YouTube similarly allowed users to connect existing profiles with their Google+ page with the Google+ name being the identity on the video sharing site. The advanced Google+ page management features, which allow up to 50 people to manage a single Google+ page, or one person to manage up to 50 Google+ pages, now also work for channels that have been linked with Google+ pages.

After having taken over Meebo, Google has recently started testing a social sharing bar too on some websites. The social side bar on certain websites will allow users to chat directly on the page and setting the stage for a bigger advertising stream, quite similar to what Meebo used to have.

Google has been working hard in the past year to make sure that a user’s Google ID becomes his passport to most sites and services online. Hence, it should not come as a surprise that Google+ and YouTube have managed to overtake Twitter, a self sufficient ecosystem, in order to race neck in neck with Facebook now.

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