Sure, we have Facebook, MySpace, Dopplr, Twitter, LinkedIn, FriendFeed and all those other social-networking sites, as well as the entire blogosphere, but who would have thought they would eclipse the good, old-fashioned and trusty email as most popular online activity by 2009?
As part of its newly released report, Global Faces and Networked Places, Nielsen Online found that over two thirds (67pc) of the global online population visit blogs, social-networking sites or other community-oriented portals.
This means this particular online activity is outpacing the four other internet sectors: search, email, portals and desktop software, by a scale of two to one.
Another interesting finding to emerge from the report was that worldwide, one in every 11 minutes spent online is spent on social-networking and blogging sites. When you consider the extent of email, shopping, company websites and googling we all do, this is pretty impressive.
“Social networking has become a fundamental part of the global online experience,” said John Burbank, CEO of Nielsen Online.
“While two-thirds of the global online population already accesses member community sites, their vigorous adoption and the migration of time show no signs of slowing.
“Social networking will continue to alter, not just the global online landscape, but the consumer experience at large. This study explains why.”
In terms of age groups accessing networking sites and blogs, this audience is rapidly diversifying: the biggest increase (over 11.3 million) in visitors in 2008 to these kind of sites came from the 35-49 year-old age group – proof indeed that these sites are not just for teenagers.
Added to this, mobile web access is also changing the s ocial-networking landscape; Nielsen found that mobile web users in the UK are the biggest fans of visiting social-networking sites through their handset.
Two million (23pc) of UK mobile web users check their favourite social-networking sites this way, in comparison to 10.6 million or 19pc of US users.
The question is: if the future of the web is social, is this how we will be doing our online shopping, finding news, transacting business and consuming media? And if so, what part will Google and other search engines play?
By Marie Boran