What is the most popular content category on the Web? Social networking of course.
Social networking sites now reach 82 percent of the world’s online population, which represents 1.2 billion users according to a recent study from ComScore.
In fact, social networking accounted for 19 percent of all time spent online in October – which is almost 1 out of every 5 minutes. This is a steady incline from 2007, when social networking only accounted for 6 percent of time spent online.
The most popular social site, Facebook, now reaches more than half of the world's population, and accounts for about 3 in every 4 minutes spent on social networking sites and 1 in every 7 minutes spent online around the world.
However microblogging has also gained momentum in the social space. Twitter grew 59 percent over the past year, and now reaches 1 in 10 Internet users across the world. But other microblogging services are also gaining traction, such as Tumblr and Sina Weibo. Sina Weibo is the leading Chinese microblogging site, and is ranked as the tenth social network globally, while Tumblr ranks twelfth globally and has recently seen a growth rate of 172 percent.
So aside from being everyone’s favorite past time, what is driving the popularity of social media? The answer could be mobile devices, which allow users to update statuses on the go, check-in with location-based services, redeem coupons or deals and more. According to the ComScore report, 32 percent of the total U.S. mobile population reported accessing social networking sites on their phone in the month of October, while 24 percent of the mobile population from the five leading European markets also claimed to have engaged with a social network via their mobile devices.
And although people use social networking for many different reasons, it continues to be an affordable and effective marketing avenue for businesses, especially since it reaches such a large audience.
A noteworthy statistic from the study reveals that social networking leads all content categories in the number of display ads delivered. In October, 28 percent of U.S. display ad impressions came from social media, and 5 percent of all ad impressions viewed in the U.S were socially enabled. Facebook is currently the largest publisher of U.S. display ad impressions, delivering 28 percent of display ad impressions in the third quarter of 2011 – which is more than the other four major portals combined.