© HEAVY READING | DECEMBER 2007 | WHITE PAPER | CHALLENGE 2.0: SOCIAL NETWORKINGDRIVES NEW REQUIREMENTS
Social networking is exploding. In October 2007, Alexa found that 7 of the top 10 most visitedWebsites globally were Web 2.0 sites. A month earlier, ComScore reported that MySpace, withmore than 55 million unique visitors, is still growing at a healthy rate of 23% year over year. Overthe same time period, Facebook increased its number of unique visitors by 129% and Bebo grew83%. But the fastest growth came from Imeem, which boasted year-over-year growth of 1,590%.That's an astounding 16 times the number of unique visitors the site had last September.Nor is this phenomenon restricted to the U.S.: Research by the Oxford Internet Institute in March-April 2007 showed that 17% of U.K. Internet users have created a profile on a social networkingsite. In India, 51% of online urban adults use social networking sites and sites such as Orkut andFacebook now account for 44% of time online, with more than 11 million Indians getting hookedon them, according to the India Online 2007 survey. Home-grown sites such as GoYaar are alsoemerging in India, to tap into the potential of social networking. In China, sites such as Zhanzuo,Xiaonei, Yeejee, ChinaRen Xiaonei, and 5Q are attracting millions of members from the youngergeneration. And Morgan Stanley research has determined that Brazil has the highest usage ofsocial networking sites in the world.Data from U.K. regulatory body Ofcom, presented in
, illustrates that people all aroundthe world are using the Internet for social interaction.
Figure 1: The Increasing Popularity of Social Interaction Using the Internet
Source: Ofcom ICMR, 2006
What's Driving This Growth?
A number of factors have converged to push social networking past the Gladwellian "tippingpoint." These factors include:1.
The digitization of media content has made the Internet a viablechannel for the distribution of all types of media. According to the February-April 2007wave of the Pew Internet & American Life Project Tracking Survey, 57% of online adultshave used the Internet to watch or download video, and 19% do so on a typical day. Andaccording to a joint study conducted by Arbitron and Edison Media research in 2006,weekly Internet radio and video audiences have each increased 50% over the last year.This familiarity with online media consumption is also facilitating the creation and sharingof personal digital media – an important driver of social network usage.