Facebook Skyrockets, MySpace Plummets, Twitter Grows

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Facebook traffic is up nearly 200 percent from a year ago according to web metrics provider Hitwise. Analyzing online traffic of 10 million U.S. Web surfers across one million different potential destinations, Facebook emerged as the leader among social networking sites, claiming almost 60 percent of a market crowded with 154 other competitors.

The social networking powerhouse recently surpassed 300 million users around the world. That means that a relatively significant number of Internet-connected users on the planet have a Facebook account and stay connected with status updates and silly quizzes.

Facebook also recently announced that it is making money and it spent some of its cash reserves to purchase a niche social networking rival, FriendFeed. Facebook has not slowed down the pace of innovation or evolution and continues to make strides to take even more of the social networking market share.

Facebook recently incorporated Twitter-style ‘@' tags for identifying and tagging users within posts. It also rolled out Facebook Lite for those who want the social networking without the social silliness. Facebook is watching its rivals closely, borrowing from their playbooks where appropriate, and learning from past rival's mistakes to ensure its continued success and make sure it doesn't become the next MySpace.

And for good reason. The once proud, once dominant social networking site has plummeted virtually out of existence. According to the Hitwise metrics a year ago MySpace had more than two-thirds of the total social networking market share all to itself. Since September of 2008, MySpace has fallen 55 percent to a market share of only 30 percent-- about half of Facebook, a competitor it once dwarfed.

MySpace retains the title for the social networking site that users spend the most time on, clocking in with an average of almost 26 minutes. However, that mark is a drop of more than 10 percent from 2008. In that same timeframe, Facebook had the most growth for this statistic, jumping 23 percent to 23 minutes. It seems reasonable to predict that there could be a new champ in this category in 2010.

Twitter meanwhile has experienced significant and respectable growth. However, the overall growth has to be viewed relative to the fact that Twitter held only .15 percent of the social networking market a year ago. Twitter has grown exponentially, boasting a leap of more than 1000 percent from 2008, but still drawing less than 5 percent of the total social networking market.

Hitwise also reported that overall social networking traffic is up 62 percent from a year ago, and that more than half of the social networking traffic comes from the 18 to 34 year old demographic. Baby boomers and senior citizens are jumping on the social networking bandwagon as well though in an effort to stay in touch with family across the country and rekindle friendships from days gone by. It will be interesting to see how we're all Facebooking and Twittering a year from now when Hitwise reports these results again.

Tony Bradley is an information security and unified communications expert with more than a decade of enterprise IT experience. He tweets as @PCSecurityNews and provides tips, advice and reviews on information security and unified communications technologies on his site at tonybradley.com.

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