New UK Stats Show That Social Media May Be More Mainstream Than You Think

facebook_thumbnailSocial networking has rocketed to the number one online activity in the UK, with 9 out of 10 Britons visiting at least one social networking site in the month of May, 2010. New data from comScore shows that social networks and social media has overtaken every other online activity in the UK. Is this indicative that social media might now be considered “mainstream”, at least in its reach? Read on for more stats from comScore.

Representing an online userbase of 38.2 million Britons who went online in the month of May, the comScore data reveals that 33 million of these users visited at least one social network during that month. That means that 9 in 10 Britons are social networkers, an increase of 13% over last year’s numbers. And the number of hours that Britons are spending on social networks is increasing as well: from 4.6 hours per person per month in May 2009 to 7.1 hours in May 2010.

Jamie Gavin, media analyst from Jay-G Media, interprets these numbers:

“The fact that 9 in 10 Internet users are now using social media is perhaps unsurprising – these tools have changed the very fabric of the way we use the Web and are now as integral to online communications as search or email. What is perhaps even more significant is the reverence now being placed on these tools by existing celebrities and brands, as Lady Gaga’s much celebrated recent rise to 10 million Facebook fans has demonstrated. Social media is no longer simply changing the way we think of the Internet, but is infiltrating mainstream celebrity and consumer culture, and changing the very nature of the traditional media we have become accustomed to.”

This news about Britons’ thirst for social networks comes at the heels of comScore’s announcement that online video viewing in the UK was up 37 percent from the previous year.

Computer-mediated social media has been around for decades, if you start counting from the first BBSs in the ’70s. It is human nature to want to connect to one another through whichever media is available, and so, as Gavin notes, it might not be a huge surprise that social networks are quickly becoming the most popular online activity around the world.

With politicians on Twitter, journalists embracing all sorts of social media and traditional media companies like NPR creating their own social media strategies, it might be time to declare social media mainstream. Facebook users are no longer limited to college students, as more 35 to 50 year olds create their profiles every day. It looks like social media is moving towards the mainstream – in its reach, if not its shape – and we can expect to see this growth affect new and established media in the future.