Social Networking Popularity Explodes Worldwide

Facebook numbers soar in Asia-Pacific
by: Jerry Liao

Social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, HI5 and Friendster has been gaining a lot of attention and popularity to users, especialy to the younger web audience. And it is not surprising, gaining new friends from social networking sites is not only exciting but fulfilling to most as well.

So just how popular are the social networking sites? Here’s a study release by comScore:

comScore, Inc. released a study of worldwide usage of social networking sites, indicating that while the growth in new users in North America is beginning to level off, it is burgeoning in other regions around the world. During the past year, the total North American audience of social networkers has grown 9 percent compared to a much larger 25 percent growth for the world at large. The Middle East-Africa region (up 66 percent), Europe (up 35 percent), and Latin America (up 33 percent) have each grown at well-above average rates.

“While the social networking trend first took off in North America, it is beginning to reach a point of maturity in the region,” said Jack Flanagan, comScore executive vice president. “However, the phenomenon is still growing rapidly in other regions around the world – especially as the established American brands turn their focus to developing markets.”

Facebook and Hi5 Lead Global Growth among Top Social Networking Sites
During the past year, many of the top social networking sites have demonstrated rapid growth in their global user bases. Facebook.com, which took over the global lead among social networking sites in April 2008, has made a concerted effort to become more culturally relevant in markets outside the U.S. Its introduction of natural language interfaces in several markets has helped propel the site to 153-percent growth during the past year. Meanwhile, the emphasis Hi5.com has put on its full-scale localization strategy has helped the site double its visitor base to more than 56 million. Other social networking sites, including Friendster.com (up 50 percent), Orkut (up 41 percent), and Bebo.com (up 32 percent) have demonstrated particularly strong growth on a global basis.

Worldwide Growth among Selected Social Networking Sites : June 2008 vs. June 2007

1. Facebook – 2008: 132million – 2007: 52million – Change: 153%
2. MySpace – 2008: 117million – 2007: 114million – Change: 3%
3. HI5 – 2008: 56million – 2007: 28million – Change: 100%
4. Friendster – 2008: 37million – 2007: 24million – Change: 50%
5. Orkut – 2008: 34million – 2007: 24million – Change: 41%
6. Bebo – 2008: 24million – 2007: 18million – Change: 32%
7. Skyrock – 2008: 21million – 2007: 17million – Change: 19%

Facebook Gains Traction in Europe and Other Regions
Facebook’s recent ascension to become the top global social networking site has been spurred by its substantial growth across worldwide regions. Though its largest visitor base is still in North America (49 million), Facebook’s growth in the region is a relatively modest 38-percent. In every other worldwide region, Facebook’s audience has more than quadrupled. Europe is quickly catching up with North America as Facebook’s largest visitor base with 35 million visitors in June, a 303-percent increase and a net addition of nearly 27 million monthly visitors versus year ago. Other worldwide regions have seen even more dramatic growth on a percentage basis.

“Facebook has done an exceptional job of leveraging its brand internationally during the past year,” added Mr. Flanagan. “By increasing the site’s relevance to local markets through local language interface translation, the site is now competing strongly or even capturing the lead in several markets where it had a relatively minor presence just a year ago.”

If by chance that you have an account to any of the top social networking sites listed above, then you are with the right group. I don’t have an account still with any of the sites, but I think it’s time for me to create one and try to see what in store for me in the social networking world.

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