August 8, 2011, 12:32 PM

Google+ could become the second-largest social network within a year

A new report finds 22% of U.S. online adults will join within 12 months.

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Google+ is quickly rising up the ranks of social networks. 13% of U.S. adult online use the search giant’s latest foray into social networking, which launched June 29, according to a new survey by research firm YouGov PLC. That compares to 14% of U.S. online adults on MySpace, 18% on Twitter, 19% on LinkedIn and 71% on Facebook.

For now, consumers can join Google+ only by invitation, which figures to limit its growth until Google opens it up more broadly. However, the percentage of consumers who plan to begin using the social network within the next 12 months stands at 9%. If those numbers hold true and 16 million U.S. online adults join Google+, the social network will pass LinkedIn, Twitter and MySpace to become the second-largest social networking site in the United States within the next 12 months, the report says.

The consumers most attracted to Google+ are relatively young, male and educated. The social network has three men for every two women (Facebook has one man for every 1.2 women). Additionally, 43% of Google+ users are between the ages of 18 and 29 (compared to 31% of Facebook users), 59% have a college degree (compared to 37% of Facebook users) and 48% are single (compared to 33% of Facebook users).

“Google+ is tracing a path similar to Facebook’s initial growth—building excitement in a core group of early adopters,” says Michael Nardis, head of YouGov Investment Products. “For Facebook, it was college students. For Google+ that path is young, educated, single men who are heavy Internet users.”

The survey also found that those early adopters are highly engaged. 45% said they read content on the site at least once a day. Only Facebook, at 62%, beat Google + on that account. 46% said they post a status update, share a link or create other content at last once a week. That’s slightly more than Twitter, at 42%.

As consumers increase the amount of time they spend on Google+, Facebook could potentially suffer. 30% of Facebook users who already use Google+ said they plan to cut down the amount of time they spend on Facebook this year.

YouGov conducted the online survey of 1,003 adults from July 29 to Aug. 2.

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