Universal McCann has released a new report that looks at the state of social media today. Apparently, this trend is showing no sign of slowing down. In fact, it's still growing. From posting photos to writing blogs, the desire to share has become a universal phenomenon. However, the latest report shows that internet users are beginning to now center their digital life around social networks like Facebook, MySpace, and Orkut, choosing to share their content within these sites instead of on services with a single focus, like Blogger or Flickr.
After four surveys of active internet users, a group whose total estimated global audience is now 625 million (or one in thirteen of people worldwide!), UM found that the usage of social networks is on the rise. For example, 76% of social network users upload photos and 33% upload videos - percentages that were up from 45% and 16.9%, respectively, as noted in UM's previous report released in spring of last year.
The new report also found that social networking is not a niche activity. Nearly two-thirds of internet users have spent time managing their online profiles. Also, 96% of active social network users have visited their friends' pages. And these numbers can be taken to the bank. UM questioned 22,729 active internet users in 38 countries between November 2008 and March 2009 to deliver what is the largest global analysis of social media we have seen to date.
As you can tell by looking at the chart below, interacting with social media remains an important part of users' internet experience. Several activities have seen increased growth since last year, most notably those involving social networks.
Surprisingly, the only activity to see a dip is uploading videos to video sharing sites. Still, video watching is now seeing a high penetration rate among active internet users at 83%, a number consistent with last year. But when you look at how many people are uploading video to social networking sites, it's there that you see the growth. 33% upload videos to their social network profiles, up from 16.9% last year, as previously noted.
Blogging also has reached a saturation point, it appears. UM notes that 71% of users report reading blogs - an increase of only 1% since last year. This seems to correlate with recent findings from Forrester Research, who also reported that no increase in blog reading was reported over last year.
The most interesting finding, though, is that social networks are seeing the most growth globally while other social media platforms stagnate or decline. Users are still sharing photos and videos and posting blog entries, they just tend to do this within a social networking site these days.
Social networks are an extremely popular destination right now. Two-thirds of active internet users have managed an online profile and 71.1% have visited a friend's social network page. When you look at active social networkers instead of just active internet users, that figure is even higher: 96% of that group has visited a friend's page. Even though these figures represent an average across 38 different countries, UM says that the figure has increased in every market except Brazil and Mexico.
The report also notes that the U.S. is a dominant player in the social media space with 60% of active internet users in this country managing a social network profile - a number up from 43.2% last year.
These continued increases in social media activity may partially be thanks to a coinciding increase in mobile internet access since nearly a fifth of active internet users have mobile access today. However, speculating as to why social media usage is on the rise goes beyond what this report aims to do.
For more information about the worldwide social media growth, including country spotlights and best practices, check out UM's report here.