Earlier this week Robin Goad, Research Director at Internet research company Hitwise, released data that revealed a new high in terms of online social media usage in the UK over Christmas. Naturally enough, Christmas is typically the busiest time of year for social networks, but Christmas 2008 saw several new highs which reaffirm (were it needed) the scale of online social networking amongst UK internet users.
According to Hitwise data, visits to Social Networks accounted for over 10% of all UK Internet visits in the week ending 27/12/08 – the first time the company has ever seen them pass the 10% mark. Over the whole of 2008, traffic to those sites classified by Hitwise as Social Networks (top 5 sites being Facebook, YouTube, Bebo, MySpace, and Yahoo Answers) has apparently grown by 20% to make it the fourth most popular category after Entertainment, Search Engines, and Shopping & Classifieds.
Key to breaking the 10% threshold was Facebook, the UK’s most popular Social Networking site, which accounted for 1 in every 22 site visits during Christmas week – making it the second most visited website after Google UK.
Which is perhaps not surprising, given yesterday’s new year blog post by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, announcing that Facebook now has 150 million users world-wide – up by 50 million in just 4 months and spread across 170 countries and territories. And before you discount this vast number on the assumption that most never visit their profile after the initial novely has worn-off, that 150m is apparently ‘active users’ – with almost half of them using Facebook every day.
All in all, a very clear new year message for any fundraisers looking to engage with supporters online who have yet to really take Social Networking seriously. It’s not a fad. It’s a massive opportunity. So add it to your new year resolutions right now!