Dec. 27, 2011 at 11:40 AM ET
As 2011 winds down, one thing seems destined for more connections in 2012: social networking, with sites that reach 1.2 billion users, 82 percent of the world’s online population. A recent report has the potential of blowing any doubts away about the influence of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others of its ilk with the revelation that social networking accounts for nearly 1 in every 5 online minutes.
The global Web analytics company comScore just released the report, "It's a Social World: Top 10 Need-to-Knows About Social Networking and Where It's Headed." According to it, Facebook rules the rest, reaching "more than half of the world's global audience (55 percent)" and having accounted for "approximately 3 in every 4 minutes spent on social networking sites and 1 in every 7 minutes spent online around the world."
Its world dominance is profound, with only seven countries where it doesn't have the largest audience in this category: Brazil, Japan, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Vietnam and China, some of which currently block the site.
Right along with Facebook, Twitter is a force to be reckoned with that "reaches 1 in 10 Internet users worldwide to rank among the top social networks, and posted an impressive growth rate of 59 percent over the past year." But its Chinese equivalent, Sina Weibo, posted the highest growth at 181 percent since October 2010.
The report also breaks down social networking's reach into different age groups, and reveals that the group with the biggest gain is the 55 and older set, which showed that nearly 80 percent are connected through such sites now, up from a little over 70 percent in July 2010. But, younger people still tend to spend the most time on social media, with the 15- to 24-year-old women spending 8.6 hours on average (1.1 hours more than their male counterparts).
And more people are using their phones to reach those sites: "In October 2011, nearly one-third (32 percent) of the total U.S. mobile population age 13 and older reported accessing social networking sites on their phone at least once in the past month." Interaction goes up even higher for smartphone users: 64 percent "reported accessing social networking sites once in the previous month and nearly 40 percent reported doing so almost every day." The top two activities they do on the go shouldn't come as any surprise: reading posts from personal friends and posting status updates.
Google+ does get a mention in the report as a potential "disrupter" to the social network world order, with its 65 million global visitors, or 5 percent of the global social networking audience. The report makes some cautious predictions about where it may go:
While this early adoption bodes well for Google+, whether or not the network can sustain this growth and a strong level of engagement among users will be better indicators of its success in the future. Google+ might emerge as a social networking leader in its own right in the years to come, but exactly how big it will be remains to be seen.