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British Bonding on Social Network Sites


Do the Brits "socialise" everything? Apparently, they're on social networking sites, they're British. eMarketer estimates that 39 percent of UK Internet users -- more than 15.4 million people -- will use social networks at least once per month in 2009.

And growth will continue, though at slightly slower rates after 2010. By 2013, the social networking population in the UK will reach 21.9 million and represent 50 percent of Internet users. IMHO, it's all those friendly cockneys from London. Alright, mate?

"Most early adopters of social media in the UK were young and male," says Karin von Abrams, eMarketer senior analyst. "And while older users -- especially those ages 65 and up -- still lag in social media usage, the appeal of Facebook and the spread of professional social networking among UK employees are boosting adoption in other age groups."

The all-important user group, UK women, is also warming to social networking, forums and blogging.

The 2008 "Digital World, Digital Life" survey by TNS provided a detailed snapshot of UK Internet user's activities online during the year.

To no one's surprise, searching, banking and catching up with the news and weather were among the most common online British pursuits. But various forms of social media also attracted significant audiences.

According to TNS, 37 percent of UK adult Internet users polled had visited a social networking site in the previous month, while 29 percent had viewed or contributed to an online forum, and 26 percent had visited or posted a comment on a message board.

Fewer than one in five had visited or added to a wiki (19 percent) or a blog (16 percent), or checked into a chat room (13 percent). Just 10 percent said they had visited a business networking site.

In its "Communications Market 2008" report, the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom) noted a higher percentage in the number of users engaging in various forms of social media over a three-month period -- compared with the one-month period referenced by TNS. Overall, 51 percent of UK Web users polled said they had been active in social networking or other collaborative activities.

Many online social activities -- such as social networking, blogging and content-sharing -- are blurring to some extent, especially as major social networks provide more functionality to integrate these strands of communication.

At the same time, these behaviors are often distinct in Britain. They can attract different audiences and are still measured separately by many research firms, so it is useful to look at them one by one.

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