Intriguing Trends in Social Networking Growth During 1H 2008

comScore released its June 2008 social networking numbers last week. After taking a little bit of a deeper look at social networking over the past 6 months, I think there are some really interesting trends here:

  • Overall, Social Networking total audience grew 64 million (12%) during the last 6 months. (That’s over twice as fast as the total internet audience.)
  • Of that, Facebook and hi5 are winning the vast majority of new users coming into the category. hi5 was by far the fastest growing site at nearly 80%, or 25 million uniques, during the period. Facebook grew by the most absolute uniques at 34 million, or 35%. Together, Facebook and hi5 grew by 59 million uniques, accounting for 67% of the growth of the top 6 social networking sites during the first half of 2008 (and 92% of the total category’s net growth during the first half of 2008).
  • The next closest in unique terms was MySpace at 10 million, or 10% growth during the period. However, Friendster (7 million uniques/25%), Orkut (9 million uniques/35%), and Bebo (2.7 million uniques/13%) grew at faster rates.
  • Facebook is clearly the largest social network in the world by total uniques, at 132 million. MySpace has saturated the US market and is not growing as fast as Facebook and hi5 internationally, where most of the growth is coming from.
  • For those that don’t yet know, hi5 is exploding. hi5’s massive 80% growth over the last quarter now firmly entrenches it as the #3 social network in the world. hi5 is the leading social network in 25 countries across Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
  • During the first half of 2008, the market became increasingly concentrated amongst the 6 market leaders. Although uniques to the leading 6 social networking sites increased by 88 million, uniques to the other 276 social networking sites in the category actually fell by 24 million from December to June. Despite all the new social networks being launched, it’s proving to be really hard to gain traction at this point.

Update: I think the calculations involving the “Other” bucket are incorrect: the Unique Visitors metric is not additive. Also, the data refers to individual months, not six months at a time.