US Web stats company Compete has some interesting analysis on how Social Networking sites compare to portals. From a sample size of around 2 million US people, Compete concludes that social networking sites are quickly approaching the traffic level of the big portals like Google and Yahoo. Their key findings:
1. In June, 2 out of every 3 people online visited a social networking site
2. Since January 2004, the number of people visiting or taking part in one of the top online social networks has grown by over 109%
3. Social networking sites are now close to eclipsing traffic to the giants - Google and Yahoo
They liken the growth of SNS to email in the 90's. A couple of charts from Compete:
Given my recent coverage of international markets, it'd be interesting to see how the likes of Bebo fits into this picture - as Bebo recently overtook MySpace as the top SNS in the UK. Compete's stats are US-only, but in any case it's clear that all trends point to SNS sites overtaking the Internet portals - sooner rather than later.