Two-thirds of the world's Internet population visit social networking or blogging sites, accounting for almost 10% of all internet time, according to a new Nielsen report "Global Faces and Networked Places." If data captured from December 2007 through December 2008 is any indication, that percentage is likely to grow as time spent on social network and blogging sites is growing more than three times the rate of overall Internet growth.
"Social networking has become a fundamental part of the global online experience," commented John Burbank, CEO of Nielsen Online. "While two-thirds of the global online population already accesses member community sites, their vigorous adoption and the migration of time show no signs of slowing."
Time spent on social network sites is also expanding: Across the globe in 2008 activity in 'Member Communities' accounted for one in every 15 online minutes - now it accounts for one in every 11. In Brazil the average is one of every four minutes and in UK it's one in every six minutes.
While social networks started out among the younger audience, they've become more mainstream
with the passage of time. Not surprisingly the audience has become broader and older. This shift has primarily been driven by Facebook whose greatest growth has come from people aged 35-49 years of age (+24.1 million). From December 2007 through December 2008, Facebook added almost twice as many 50-64 year old visitors (+13.6 million) than it has added under 18 year old visitors (+7.3 million).
As Mixi in Japan shows, the increasing popularity of social networks has resulted in increasing demand to access them on the move. Mobile is a natural fit for social networks, as consumers are used to connecting with friends via mobile calls and text. UK mobile web users have the greatest propensity to visit a social network through their handset with 23% of them (2 million people) doing so, compared to 19% in the US (10.6 million people). The numbers of people doing so are a big increase on last year - 249% in the UK and 156% in the US.
For additional trend data and insights, download the full report of Nielsen's Global Faces and Networked Places.