You heard that right...no matter how much time we sink into our inbox trying to keep up with all that barrage of never-ending mail, a new report sent over by Nielsen (thanks Sandra Parrelli) claims that Social networks and blogs are now the fourth most popular online activity today.



The report, "Global Faces and Networked Places," features data captured from December 2007 through December 2008 and reveals some very interesting statistics worth noting.

Here's are the highlights:

Two-thirds of the world's Internet population visit social networking or blogging sites, accounting for almost 10% of all internet time

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.

While social networks started out among the younger audience, they've become more mainstream with the passage of time.

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).

Facebook started out as a service for university students but now almost one third of
its global audience is aged 35-49 years of age and almost one quarter is over 50 years
old.



Time spent on social networks and blogs is growing at over 3x the rate of overall Internet growth.



The total amount spent online globally increased by 18% between December 2007 and December 2008. In the same period, however, the amount of time spent on ‘Member Community' sites rose by 63% to 45 billion minutes; and 3.1 billion minutes to 20.5 billion. Facebook's time is so high due to being the ninth most popular brand online and having the highest average time per person (three hours 10 minutes) amongst the 75 most popular brands online worldwide.

Social networks and blogs are eating into the share of time held by other sectors.

People under 18 years old are making up less of the social network and blogging audience, whereas the 50+ age group are accounting for more of the audience.



Facebook has replaced MySpace as the world's most popular social network.

Reasons contributing to Facebook's rapid growth:
- An organized and simple design
- Broad appeal
- Activity focus
- Architecture for applications, peer-to-peer activity influence, third-party developers have increased word-of-mouth and visitor engagement
- Privacy
- Media coverage



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- Is Twitter a Viable Conversation Platform
- Is FriendFeed the Next Conversation Platform

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