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Usage of Social Networking Grows Globally

ComScore released a study of worldwide usage of social networking sites, indicating that while the growth in new users in North America is beginning to level off, it is burgeoning in other regions around the world.

During the past year, the total North American audience of social networkers has grown 9 percent compared to a much larger 25 percent growth for the world at large. The Middle East-Africa region (up 66 percent), Europe (up 35 percent), and Latin America (up 33 percent) have each grown at well-above average rates.

During the past year, many of the top social networking sites have demonstrated rapid growth in their global user bases.

Facebook.com, which took over the global lead among social networking sites in April 2008, has made a concerted effort to become more culturally relevant in markets outside the U.S. Its introduction of natural language interfaces in several markets has helped propel the site to 153 percent growth during the past year.

Meanwhile, the emphasis Hi5.com has put on its full-scale localization strategy has helped the site double its visitor base to more than 56 million. Other social networking sites, including Friendster.com (up 50 percent), Orkut (up 41 percent), and Bebo.com (up 32 percent) have demonstrated particularly strong growth on a global basis.

Facebook's recent ascension to become the top global social networking site has been spurred by its substantial growth across worldwide regions. Though its largest visitor base is still in North America (49 million), Facebook's growth in the region is a relatively modest 38 percent.

In every other worldwide region, Facebook's audience has more than quadrupled.

Europe is quickly catching up with North America as Facebook's largest visitor base with 35 million visitors in June, a 303 percent increase and a net addition of nearly 27 million monthly visitors versus year ago. Other worldwide regions have seen even more dramatic growth on a percentage basis.

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