Social media was the top online activity in 2011 globally
Social networking accounted for nearly one in every five minutes spent online globally in October 2011, ranking as the most engaging online activity worldwide, according to new research from ComScore.
The report says the importance of Facebook cannot be underestimated since it reaches 55pc of the world's global audience. It also revealed that microblogging has emerged as a disruptive new force in social networking.
“The emergence and widespread global adoption of social networks has vastly influenced human interaction on an individual, community and larger societal level, and underscores the convergence of the online and offline worlds," said Linda Boland Abraham, ComScore CMO and EVP of global development.
“Regardless of geography, social networks are weaving themselves ever more intricately into the fabric of the digital experience, opening a world of new opportunity for business and technology."
Social networking sites now reach 82pc of the world's internet population age 15 and older that accessed the internet from a home or work computer, representing 1.2bn users around the globe.
In October, Facebook reached more than half (55pc) of the world's global audience and accounted for one in every seven minutes spent online around the world and three in every four social networking minutes.
Microblogging, a disruptive new force for social
In recent years, microblogging has taken hold as a popular social networking activity on a global scale. In October, Twitter reached one in 10 internet users worldwide, growing 59pc in the past year.
Other popular microblogging destinations seeing rapid adoption include Chinese site Sina Weibo, with its audience growing 181pc in the past year to rank as the tenth largest social network in October. Tumblr, which ranked twelfth worldwide in audience size, grew 172pc in the past year.
All age groups embrace social
Although young users age 15-24 still represent the most highly-engaged segment of social networkers, with an average of eight hours per visitor spent in the category in October, social networking is catching on among older age segments across the globe.
In fact, people age 55 and older represented the fastest-growing age segment in global social networking usage, with the penetration of social networks in the segment increasing nearly 10 percentage points since July 2010 to 80pc in October 2011.
Mobile is fuelling social addiction
The ComScore report says that in the US, 64pc of smartphone users accessed social networking sites at least once in October 2011, with two in five smartphone owners connecting via social networking nearly every day. In the EU, 45pc of smartphone owners accessed social networks on their mobile device during the month, with nearly one in four doing so on a near daily basis.
The widespread adoption of social networking highlights the global appeal of this online activity. Of the 43 markets individually reported by ComScore, 41 markets saw at least 85pc of their respective online populations visit social networking sites in October 2011.
Analysis of the most highly engaged global social networking markets revealed that Israel led all countries, with visitors spending an average of more than 11 hours on social networking sites during the month.
Argentina ranked second at 10.7 hours, followed by Russia (10.4 hours) and Turkey (10.2 hours). The United States, at 6.9 hours per person, did not even rank within the top 10 countries for social networking engagement.