Online competitive intelligence service Hitwise on Wednesday announced that in September one in 20 U.S. Internet visits went to one of the top 20 social-networking websites - nearly double the share of visits compared with a year ago.
MySpace (www.myspace.com) was the undisputed leader in social networking, receiving 82 percent of those visits among the top 20 social networking websites in September 2006, according to the "Hitwise US Consumer Generated Media Report," which examines recent trends in social networking, photo sharing and online video. Visits to MySpace increased 51 percent March-September 2006, outpacing the 34 percent overall growth for the social-net category during the same period.
Other social networking sites with above-average growth in market share of visits were Bolt (www.bolt.com), up 271 percent; Bebo (www.bebo.com), up 95 percent; Orkut (www.orkut.com), up 63 percent; and Gaia Online (www.gaia.com), up 41 percent.
The influence of MySpace crosses over into other industries as users integrate social networking visits with other web activity. Some 2.4 percent of September visits to websites in the Shopping & Classifieds category came directly from MySpace, an increase of 83 percent from March 2006. Sites in other industry categories receiving increased traffic from MySpace in that period were Telecommunications, Banks and Financial Institutions, and Travel.
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The report also highlights how photo-hosting and user-generated-video websites have grown to present additional opportunities for advertisers. The market share of visits to the leading photo hosting website, PhotoBucket (www.photobucket.com), increased 43 percent from March to September, while visits to community-oriented photography website Flickr (www.flickr.com) increased by 49 percent and visits to YouTube (www.youtube.com) were up 249 percent.
YouTube ranked at number 26 among all U.S. Internet domains in September 2006, and Photobucket ranked at number 34.
"This report shows how influential the creation and consumption of user content has become as a web activity, and demonstrates its significance in driving web traffic to other categories," said LeeAnn Prescott, director of research at Hitwise. "The use of social networking, photo hosting, and online video websites represent a significant shift in online user behavior, and Hitwise Clickstream data is particularly useful in understanding how these users are interacting with the web."