Media metrics firm Hitwise has released is U.S. Consumer Generated Media Report, which examines usership trends on online video, photo-hosting, and the oh-so-hot social networking categories from March through September of 2006. And Hitwise found that MySpace is still king of the social networking mountain, with 82 percent of visits to the top 20 social networking sites landing at News Corp’s flagship online hangout. And MySpace is still growing, with visits to the site rising 51 percent between March and September. That’s significantly greater growth than the overall social networking category, which saw visits increase 34 percent over the same period. Some other social networking sites—yes, there are other social networking sites—saw above-average increases in traffic, including Bolt, Bebo, Orkut, and Gaia Online. Combined, one in twenty Internet visits land at the top 20 social networking sites.
These increases come despite a seasonal dip from August to September as school-aged site users shift their attention from summer socializing to academics. This year, visits to the top 20 social networking sites dropped by 7.3 percent from August to September. The size of the overall dip is comparable to 2005, where traffic declined by 7.6 percent as academic years got underway. However, in 2005, it, increased by 10.8 percent from September to October, while this year traffic has remained flat over the same two months.
The power of MySpace is starting to spill into other Internet sites as well, as users visiting MySpace follow links to other sites. In September, Hitwise says 2.4 pecent of traffic to online shopping and classified ad sites came directly from MySpace—that’s an increase of 83 percent since March, 2006. Banks, financial institutions, telecommunications company, and online travel sites are also seeing increases in MySpace-generated traffic.
Hitwise also found that online video sharing Web site YouTube, recently acquired by Google, saw a 249 percent increase in visits between March and September—but once the school year started, visits to Wikipedia increased at a faster pace the YouTube. Similarly, traffic to photosharing Web sites like Imageshack, Slide, and (particularly) Photobucket has increased alongside visits to social networking Web sites.
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