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article imageSocial Networking Goes Mainstream for UK Pensioners Special

By Lisa Devaney     Jul 23, 2009 in Technology
comScore Europe released a study that shows people in the UK are increasingly spending time online with social networking, and that more older people are joining the activity, with Facebook taking the lead in popularity.
This year, according to comScore research findings, social networking in the UK has reached its tipping point into the mainstream, and demographically gotten older with increasing numbers of people 55 and older using Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other websites.
The report released this month, shows the results of a study into UK social networking site usage by age of visitor, based on data from the comScore World Metrix audience measurement service, which monitors the online behavior of people worldwide.
The study found that 29.4 million people accessed at least one social networking site in the UK in May, and spent approximately 4.6 hours social networking, during the month. Facebook ranks as the most visited social networking site, with a 57% increase of UK visitors seen in the last year from 15.1 million in 2008 to more than 23.8 million in 2009.
Overall, comScore reports that social networking has become a mainstream online activity among all age groups, with 80 percent of the total UK online population having visited a site in the category in May.
A screenshot of a Facebook profile page
A screenshot of a Facebook profile page
“Facebook started as the new kid on block then turned mainstream this year, and where previously it was mostly young male and early adopters, it has spread to the entire online community,” said Jamie Gavin, Senior Analyst for comScore Europe. “During the last year or two, the trend is moving toward 55 and older age group using social networking more.”
In testimonial to the rising age of social networks that comScore Europe reports, the UK's Ivy Bean, age 104, has become a celebrated personality on Twitter, where she has attracted more than 23,000 followers of her account @IvyBean104
Internet popularity was highest amongst 25-34 year old, 89 per cent of whom visited the a social networking website during the month, followed by 15-24 year olds, who account for 86 percent. While social networking was found to be somewhat lower among the older age groups, it remained relatively high, reaching two thirds of the total online population age 55 and older. Comparatively, slightly more people from this age group visited a social networking site in May than visited a business & finance (63 percent), technology (62 percent) or travel site (52 percent).
Engagement also skewed more heavily towards the younger age segments, with 15-24 and 25-34 year olds averaging 5.4 hours per user per month compared with 3.7 hours per month among users age 55 and older. Overall, social networking was the second most popular online activity in the UK, based on average time spent per user (4.6 hours), trailing only instant messaging (8.6 hours).
“Like any new kind of trend, early adopters will naturally be inclined to be younger and view it as cool or new or fashionable, but then these sites make communications really accessible, really open and because of asthetic it appeals to a broader range of people,” Gavin said. “Facebook provides stable service and enables communication so easily, it is here to stay.”
Facebook now ranks in comScore’s top five most popular websites worldwide, which include:
1) Google
2) Microsoft (includes all the company’s website properties)
3) Yahoo!
4) Wikipedia
5) Facebook
6) AOL
7) eBay
8) Amazon
9) CBS
10) Fox
Impressive growth is also happening for micro-blogging website Twitter this year, while significant drops in usage of MySpace, Bebo and Friends Reunited have occurred, according to comScore findings. Migration from Facebook to Twitter appears to be happening as early adopters of Twitter pull over their Facebook friend’s to the site, according to Gavin.
Social Networking Goes Mainstream In UK
More people are using social networking websites in the UK and they are getting older.
ComScore’s full findings for the UK are:
Property May-08 May-09 % Change
Facebook 15,195 23,860 57
Bebo 11,895 8,546 -28
Windows Live Profile N/A 6,891 N/A
MySpace Sites 8,335 6,531 -22
Twitter 80 2,670 3,226
Digg 1,311 1,759 34
Friends Reunited Group 3,271 1,629 -50
Tagged 669 1,625 143
Deviantart 900 1,453 61
Buzznet 939 1,370 46
For full details of the study's findings see comScore Europe's press release.
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