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Web Social Networks' Popularity Still Rising

Doug Caverly
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-05-12

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Social networking sites are bigger than ever, according to new data from Nielsen//NetRatings. The ten largest sites, taken together, grew 47 percent in the past year, and they now reach 45 percent of active Internet users.

MySpace ranked first, with 38.4 million unique users. That's 38.4 million different people, not separate accounts (since one individual can hold multiple accounts). And the site, which has garnered some less-than-positive attention in the news lately, accomplished a year-over-year growth rate of 367 percent.

The site Blogger placed a distant second, with 18.5 million users, and with 80 percent year-over-year growth. Classmates Online, YouTube, and MSN Groups trailed not too far behind.

Jon Gibs, senior director of media at Nielsen//NetRatings, explained the data. "The social networking sites that are seeing strong growth have developed a unique online presence that is continually refreshed by user generated content."

Such impressive numbers are reminiscent of another trend that exploded into popularity. "Social networking sites are the reality television of the Internet," said Gibs. "The content is relatively inexpensive for publishers to produce, and social networking is not a fad that will disappear."

In terms of user retention, MySpace again led the pack, holding onto 67.4 percent of its users. MSN Groups did second best, retaining 57.62 percent of its participants, while the college (and recently high school) network known as Facebook came in third with a 51.73 percent rate of retention.

If you didn't believe it before, believe it now-Internet social networks are big, and they're here to stay.

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About the Author:
Doug is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.

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