New stats from Nielsen Online show that by the end of 2008, social networking had overtaken email in terms of worldwide reach. According to the study, 66.8% of Internet users across the globe accessed “member communities” last year, compared to 65.1% for email. The most popular online activities remain search and Web portals (with around 85% reach) and the websites of software manufacturers.
The far-reaching study also explored a number of other trends within the social networking space. In 2008, users spent 63% more time on member communities than they did in the previous year. However, within member communities, Facebook saw growth of 566% in time spent on it by users worldwide. As has been reported elsewhere, Facebook’s fastest growth demographic is older users – the social network tacked on 12.4 million people between ages 35-49 in 2008 according to Nielsen.
Some other key findings from the report:
– Globally, Facebook reaches 29.9% of global Internet users, versus 22.4% for MySpace.
– MySpace remains the most profitable social network, generating an estimated $1 billion in revenue versus $300 million for Facebook in 2008.
– Facebook is the top social network in all countries except Germany, Brazil, and Japan (Nielsen still has MySpace as tops in US in the report, but as of January ’09, that had changed).
– On Twitter, CNN, The New York Times, and BBC have the greatest reach among mainstream media companies as of late February.
Overall, most of these trends aren’t surprising if you’ve been following the space, but nonetheless, tie some numbers to them. Most impressive is the rise of Facebook, who is outpacing the growth of the social networking space on the whole by nearly tenfold.[source: Mashable < See the complete report here]