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Summary:

Instagram joined the club of social media companies releasing monthly active user stats, a more helpful metric than general registered users. We broke down the metrics from some of the most popular services, taking a look at how long it’s taken each company to get there.

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Instagram announced Thursday that it’s hit 90 million monthly active users, finally releasing the metric that most people look to in evaluating the reach of a particular website or app. Monthly active users are one of the better indicators of a company’s true reach — you can have millions of users, but if they never log in and use your service, that doesn’t mean much.

We broke down the numbers for all of the prominent social media services that have released a monthly active user stat, and then plotted those numbers along with the years since the company launched. The area of the circles is representative of the service’s monthly active users. And you might find some of the results surprising. For all we talk about Twitter, it is only a fifth the size of Facebook. And while LinkedIn was the first company founded of all we charted, it still has pretty tiny numbers.

Pinterest declined to release numbers, although it did make it on comScore’s list of top 50 web properties in September. With Google+ numbers, it’s good to remember that the service is so deeply integrated into other Google products, it can be more difficult to understand exactly how people are using the platform.

But taking a look at the numbers we do have — and it’s worth noting that the majority of major sites do release the monthly active figure — gives you a good sense of where traffic and user interest is going. And if your users aren’t interested in visiting your site or app each month, that’s probably not a great sign:

Charts by Rani Molla/GigaOM

  1. not even a whisper of myspace?

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  2. Considering all the aggressive methods they use I thought Google+ will be way higher that that.

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  3. Abdallah Al-Hakim Friday, January 18, 2013

    It is an interesting topic but the graph is a bit confusing because it is organization along the horizontal axis is not clear.

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  4. Facebook is at top. What a nice analytic you have presented

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  5. What is interesting to me is that Twitter is having such a huge impact with numbers much lower than facebook. Perhaps a lesson can be learned from this. In the nineties AOL bragged about how many subscribers they had but ultimately lost out. Could facebook be doomed in the long run?

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  6. Define Active! If a like click or a 5 min login are considered “active” then this numbers are just as worthless.

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  7. I find it hard to believe there are really that many active facebook users. I have a facebook account but only log in like once a month. I see 3 or 4 active posts on there a day. Meanwhile on Google+ I’m active every day and I see hundreds of new posts and thousands of new comments every day. A lot of facebook “activity” is automated too, games and such posting for you, auto-friending, etc. You don’t even have to be logged in to be considered active.

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    1. Indeed. Many social networks made it an art to “activate” there users.

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  8. Virginie Lepetit Monday, January 21, 2013

    Were is Sina Weibo (more than 300 millions users, are also present in USA) ?

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  9. This is a very confusing infographic.

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