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The Rush to Social Networks

Plenty of users, but marketers can’t yet take them to the bank.

February 9, 2009

The social networking audience is growing rapidly.

eMarketer estimates that in 2008 nearly 80 million people, 41% of the US Internet user population, visited social network sites at least once a month, an 11% increase from 2007.

By 2013, an estimated 52% of Internet users will be regular social network visitors.

“The steady stream of social network updates and news is now a weekly—or even daily—habit for many online users,” says Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, Social Networks: Five Consumer Trends for 2009. “That stickiness is good news for social networks.”

Good news because social networks have yet to develop viable revenue models. But there is still time.

“Social network usage is not tapering off—it is growing,” Ms. Williamson says. “Not only are more consumers joining social networks, but their level of involvement is deepening.”

The majority of social network users have profiles.

eMarketer projects that 79.7 million people, 40% of US Internet users, will create content on social networks at least once a month in 2009, either by updating a profile or communicating publicly.

That represents 90.5% of social network users—and a lot of stickiness.

“More users are more involved with social networking now than ever before,” says Ms. Williamson.

The steady increase in usage is one of five important trends Ms. Williamson has identified in social networking in 2009. To read more about it, and see what the other four are, download the new eMarketer report, Social Networks: Five Consumer Trends for 2009, today.

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