Tom Smith, founder of GlobalWebIndex, exclusively talks us through their latest research into social media usage trends around the world, showing that Google+ is in 2nd place to Facebook and gaining fast.

There was a time when Google had a social network problem but no more! Google+ is currently the second most commonly used social network globally and growing at a faster rate than Facebook.

It may still fall behind Facebook which 69% of global internet users now have accounts with, compared to 52% for the Google owned social layer but it’s well ahead of Twitter, China’s social giants and even sister company YouTube.

Year on year growth when it comes to active users (those who have used or contributed to a platform) is now at 18%, ahead of Facebook, which is on 15%.

True, there remain the questions about what Google+ actually is, and our survey tracks both account ownership (728.7m compared to Facebook’s 957.4m) as well as visited last month and active last month (used or contributed).

The middle figure shows Google ahead of Facebook at 1.2bn compared to 809.8m, but that’s because Plus.google.com is too integrated into the company’s services to actually split the layer out. The 1.2bn figure reflects all visits to Google, including Google search.

Our Q2 2013 data also highlights the growth of two of social media’s rising stars, Pinterest and Tumblr. While user numbers are still some way off those of Facebook and Google+ (however you count them), they are growing impressively.

Pinterest recorded year on year growth of 88% in number of active users across the 31 markets we track in Q2 2013, while Tumblr managed a 74% increase. Of the big three, only Twitter at 44% year on year growth came close.

This year’s losers continue to be the country-specific platforms outside China including Mixi (down 54%) and Me2Day from South Korea down 45%.

As with all things internet, however, no trends are absolute and Mig33 from Indonesia was number 3 in the gainers chart, splitting Tumblr and Twitter with 61% growth in the year to Q2 2013.

As impressive as these growth figures are, all of the big social media services continue to battle with users’ transition to mobile-first internet usage. The big question will be who is going to come out on top as we move into 2014.