It has been & #BANNER1 & # a dynamic year for social networking sites, according to global figures released by comScore. According to the report, News Corporation's MySpace retains top spot with 114 million unique visitors in June 2007, a growth of 72 per cent over June 2006.
But it is Facebook that is the social networking find of the year, registering a growth of 270 per cent, with 52 million unique visitors. Facebook has taken a significant lead over Hi5, which registered a relatively moderate growth of 56 per cent to hit 28 million unique visitors in June 2007.
Similarly, Friendster, the forerunner of social networking, registered 24 million unique visitors in June 2007, as did Orkut, Google's networking site. While Friendster grew by 65 per cent over the year, Orkut showed a growth of 78 per cent.
Now, another type of social networking site is catching up. Websites like Bebo and Tagged do not expect the user to write tomes of text. They allow members to connect with each other in simple, uncomplicated steps and are largely pictorial. Both these websites have grown enormously over the past year. Tagged grew from 6.7 million unique visitors in June 2006 to 13 million unique visitors a year later. Bebo grew by 172 per cent and had 18.2 million unique visitors in June 2007.
Friendster has a share of 88.7 per cent visitors from the region. The growth of Orkut is largely driven by visitors in Latin America (49 per cent) and Asia Pacific (43 per cent). Bebo is mostly popular in Europe, with 62.5 per cent visitors from the region. Tagged also has a fair number of visitors across the globe, with 29 per cent visitors from Asia Pacific and 23 per cent from Europe. Bebo is also the only social network that has a two-digit visitor share (10 per cent) in West Asia and Africa region.
comScore's executive vice-president of international markets, Bob Ivins, said in a statement, "Literally hundreds of millions of people around the world are visiting social networking sites each month and many are doing so on a daily basis. It would appear that social networking is not a fad but rather an activity that is being woven into the very fabric of the global Internet."
For this report, comScore studied unique visitors above the age of 15 logging into social networking sites that have at least 10 million visitors worldwide and have grown more than 50 per cent over the previous year. comScore explains that the sites under study were chosen with their importance to the North American market and may not necessarily reflect the top social networking sites in the world.
While there is no India-specific breakup, it's clear that Orkut, MySpace and Hi5 rule the roost - and Facebook is emerging as a challenger here, too. Watch this space for developments in this arena.