Digital Beat’s LeeAnn Prescott recently posted a blog featuring some terrific data that shows the penetration rates of various social networks. In her post she highlights December 2009 data from comScore that puts Facebook’s unique US visitor count at nearly 112 million. With a total estimated US Internet population of 205 million, that means that 54% of all Internet users are on Facebook. MySpace captured a still strong 57 million users in December — 27% of the Internet population.
Some surprises in the comScore data –
Facebook users were more engaged than MySpace users, visiting Facebook an average of 27 times in December versus 14 for MySpace.
Tagged, MyYearbook, and Orkut users were the most active, visiting those sites about every other day or more.
MyYearbook and Tagged users spent 2 minutes longer on average on those sites than the average Facebook user.
Experian Hitwise offered trend data that demonstrates how big social networking has become:
One in four (25%) US Internet page views occurred at one of the top social networking sites in December 2009, up 83% from 13.8% in December 2008.
Nearly one in 10 visits went to one of these sites in December 2009, versus 5.8% in December 2008.
MySpace and Facebook virtually flipped positions over the course of a year — in December 2009, visits to Facebook accounted for 68% of visits to a custom category of 10 social networks, compared to MySpace’s 28%. In December 2008, Facebook had 29% of visits and MySpace had 64%.
Facebook drove category growth, with its overall market share growing 286% from December 2008 to December 2009.
The only other site to grow in market share in that period was Tagged, whose overall share grew by 35%.
When taken in sum, these data suggest that all of the attention directed toward Facebook in the past year is warranted. But the 57 million highly engaged users on MySpace are nothing to sneeze at, and the second-tier networks have millions of users. Expect them to begin to integrate with Facebook or MySpace over the course of the next year, just as vertically oriented sites have done (Flixster, a movie review social network is integrated with MySpace, and Goodreads, a site where users share book recommendations, is integrated with Facebook).
There’s no shame in doing what you do best, keeping your users happy, and allowing them to grow their network by sharing their activities on the largest social networking site in the world.