LONDON: Twitter is the world's fastest-growing social platform, with user numbers increasing 42% year on year and skewed towards older consumers, new research has found.

Globalwebindex (GWI), the internet research firm, surveyed 31,779 consumers in 31 different countries during the first quarter for its Stream Social Q1 2013 report. Of the major platforms, it found that Twitter had grown fastest, followed by Facebook (up 35%) and Google+ (up 33%).

Twitter's impressive growth rate meant it had now signed up 35% of all internet users as account holders, amounting to 476.5m people.

Some 22% of all those online actively used the platform and the survey revealed that an increasing number of these were older users, with active use of Twitter growing nearly 80% among 55-64 year olds.

Facebook remained the biggest platform with 63% of global internet users, a total of 860m people, having an account. Just over half of all internet users had been active on the platform in the previous month, and here again an older demographic was emerging, as active use was up 46% among 45-54 year olds.

In terms of engagement rates, Facebook led the way achieving a figure of 82%, followed by Twitter and Google+ on around 60% and Pinterest and LinkedIn on just over 50%.

These five social platforms have increased their global numbers, and only in China and Russia did local platforms exhibit any growth.

Globalwebindex found that Russia's vKontake was up 40% over the nine months to March 2013, while Taiwan's Eyny grew 34% year on year.

The leading Chinese platforms Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo and Qzone were up 21%, 21% and 10% respectively over the year.

Of the other global platforms, Pinterest usage remained concentrated in the USA and Canada, while active usage of LinkedIn was found to be heaviest in India, South Africa and the UAE.

"With every new quarter of data we can see with clarity the growing dominance of Facebook, Twitter and Google+ in the global social ecosystem," said Tom Smith, founder of GlobalWebIndex.

"More impressive," he added, "is the recent re-emergence of these social platforms in saturated markets such as the US, UK and Canada thanks to the growing adoption of mobile and increasing integration of these services into mobile OS and applications."

Data sourced from Globalwebindex; additional content by Warc staff