Nielsen Finds Social Networking Use Up 83 Pct from 2008

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Nielsen Online finds that the amount of time U.S. Internet users spend on social networking sites was up some 83 percent in April of 2009 compared to April of 2008…but that social networking’s growing audience is also a very fickle crowd, prone to rapidly shift away from services as they lose popularity or fall from favor.

"Remember Friendster? Remember when MySpace was an unbeatable force?” asked Nielsen Online’s VP for media and agency insights Jon Gibs, in a blog posting. “Neither Facebook nor Twitter are immune. Consumers have shown that they are willing to pick up their networks and move them to another platform, seemingly at a moment’s notice."

Nielsen found the Facebook experienced a nearly 700 percent year-on-year growth factor, with users spending some 13.9 billion minutes on th site in April, making it the top social networking site. (In April a year ago, it boasted only 1.7 million minutes of usage.) Former social networking top dog MySpace saw almost 5 billion minutes of usage in the month, a year-on-year slip of over 30 percent. (But don’t count MySpace out entirely: when ranked by video streaming, MySpace is still number one.) Proportionately, the biggest year-on-year growth was at Twitter, which blossomed from under 8 million minutes of usage in April a year ago to almost 300 million minutes of use in April 2009—an increase of over 3,700 percent.

After FaceBook and MySpace in the top two spots, the top social networking sites during April 2009 in terms of minutes of use were Blogger, Tagged.com, Twitter, MyYearbook, LiveJournal, LinkedIn, SlashKey, and Gaia Online. FaceBook and MySpace are still way ahead of any other competing service in the field, however, with MySpace boasting about 8.5 times the usage minutes of the number three service, Blogger.