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Facebook, Hi5 more than double visitor bases

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CIOL Bureau
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RESTON, USA: comScore Inc., a leader in measuring the digital world, has released a study of worldwide usage of social networking sites, indicating that while the growth in new users in North America is beginning to level off, it is burgeoning in other regions around the world.

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During the past year, the total North American audience of social networkers has grown 9 percent compared to a much larger 25 percent growth for the world at large. The Middle East-Africa region (up 66 percent), Europe (up 35 percent), and Latin America (up 33 percent) have each grown at well-above average rates.

    Social Networking Growth by Worldwide Region

    June 2008 vs. June 2007

    Total Worldwide Audience, Age 15+ - Home and Work Locations

    Source: comScore World Metrix

                                             Unique Visitors (000)

                                             Jun-07          Jun-08     Percent Change

    Worldwide                      464,437         580,510            25%

    Asia Pacific                      162,738         200,555            23%

    Europe                            122,527         165,256            35%

    North America                 120,848         131,255              9%

    Latin America                    40,098          53,248             33%

    Middle East - Africa           18,226          30,197             66%

"While the social networking trend first took off in North America, it is beginning to reach a point of maturity in the region," said Jack Flanagan, comScore executive vice president. "However, the phenomenon is still growing rapidly in other regions around the world, especially as the established American brands turn their focus to developing markets."

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Facebook and Hi5 Lead Global Growth among Top Social Networking Sites

During the past year, many of the top social networking sites have demonstrated rapid growth in their global user bases. Facebook.com, which took over the global lead among social networking sites in April 2008, has made a concerted effort to become more culturally relevant in markets outside the U.S. Its introduction of natural language interfaces in several markets has helped propel the site to 153-percent growth during the past year.

Meanwhile, the emphasis Hi5.com has put on its full-scale localization strategy has helped the site double its visitor base to more than 56 million. Other social networking sites, including Friendster.com (up 50 percent), Orkut (up 41 percent), and Bebo.com (up 32 percent) have demonstrated particularly strong growth on a global basis.

    Worldwide Growth among Selected Social Networking Sites

    June 2008 vs. June 2007

    Total Worldwide Audience, Age 15+

    Home and Work Locations

    Source: comScore World Metrix

                                              Total Unique Visitors (000)

                                                           Jun-2007        Jun-2008      % Change

    Total Internet : Total Audience         778,310         860,514           11%

    Social Networking                             464,437         580,510           25%

    FACEBOOK.COM                                 52,167         132,105          153%

    MYSPACE.COM                                 114,147         117,582              3%

    HI5.COM                                            28,174           56,367          100%

    FRIENDSTER.COM                              24,675           37,080           50%

    Orkut                                                24,120           34,028           41%

    BEBO.COM                                        18,200           24,017           32%

    Skyrock Network                              17,638           21,041           19%

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Facebook Gains Traction in Europe and Other Regions

Facebook's recent ascension to become the top global social networking site has been spurred by its substantial growth across worldwide regions. Though its largest visitor base is still in North America (49 million), Facebook's growth in the region is a relatively modest 38-percent. In every other worldwide region, Facebook's audience has more than quadrupled.

Europe is quickly catching up with North America as Facebook's largest visitor base with 35 million visitors in June, a 303-percent increase and a net addition of nearly 27 million monthly visitors versus year ago. Other worldwide regions have seen even more dramatic growth on a percentage basis.

    Worldwide Growth for Facebook.com

    June 2008 vs. June 2007

    Total Worldwide Audience, Age 15+

    Home and Work Locations

    Source: comScore World Metrix

                                           Total Unique Visitors (000)

                                                  Jun-2007     Jun-2008      % Change

    FACEBOOK.COM                     52,167           132,105          153%

    North America                        35,698             49,248           38%

    Europe                                    8,751             35,263          303%

    Asia Pacific                              3,712             20,712          458%

    Middle East - Africa                 2,974             14,951          403%

    Latin America                          1,033             11,931         1055%

"Facebook has done an exceptional job of leveraging its brand internationally during the past year," added Mr. Flanagan. "By increasing the site's relevance to local markets through local language interface translation, the site is now competing strongly or even capturing the lead in several markets where it had a relatively minor presence just a year ago."

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