Facebook continues to soar

New data from web measurement firm Hitwise further illustrates Facebook's increasing domination of online social networking. Facebook's share of U.S. traffic to social sites grew nearly fourfold in the last year, from 19.9 per cent to 58.6 per cent at the end of September. Heading in the opposite direction is MySpace, which has seen its share tumble to 30.3 per cent from 66.8 per cent a year ago.

Twitter, social networking's latest star, came in 4th behind Tagged, with a 1.84 per cent market share, up from 0.15 per cent a year ago. Given Twitter's recent exposure, and an estimated valuation of $1 billion, it's share might be considered disappointing. However, Hitwise acknowledges that its figures don't include mobile and application-driven traffic, which probably account for the bulk of Twitter's activity.

Even so, Twitter's torrid growth appears to have cooled off. According to comScore, Twitter's monthly traffic has leveled off at about 20 million visitors since July, after jumping from 4 million in February to 17 million in April.

Meanwhile, Facebook continues its steady surge, gaining three percentage points of share in the last month. In September, the social networking site announced that it had passed the 300 million mark in worldwide users after hitting 250 million only two months earlier. Facebook has shown particularly strong growth among older users, with its share of those 55 and over more than doubling to 13.53 per cent. Visits to social networking sites from that age group overall have increased 77 per cent in the last year.

One area where MySpace continues to lead is in average time spent per visit 25 minutes, 56 seconds according to Hitwise. But even that edge is slipping away. Average time spent on Facebook increased 23 per cent in the last year to 23 minutes, compared to a 12 per cent drop on MySpace. Time spent on Twitter again showed a downward pattern for the service, as that figure fell 55 per cent from 36:27 to 15:52. The sign of an addiction losing its grip?



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