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Social Networks Are Not Yet Universal

Not everyone is pokable.

September 3, 2008

More than one-half of adults surveyed in 17 countries do not know what social networking is, according to Synovate. The company said it asked over 13,000 consumers in Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the US if they were familiar with social networking.

Although such aggregate findings are useful in a directional sense (many consumers worldwide have yet to hear about social networking), Synovate noted differences in individual countries and among demographic segments. For instance, awareness was higher among younger users.

Adults Worldwide Who Know What Online Social Networking Is, June 2008 (% of respondents)

As for membership, 26% of respondents belonged to social networking sites. Membership was highest in the Netherlands, at 49%; UAE, at 46%; Canada, at 44%; and the US, at 40%.

Synovate also asked adult consumers if they were losing interest in online social networking. Overall, 36% of social network users said yes, led by those in Japan (55%), Slovakia (48%), Canada (47%), Poland and the US (45% each). Social networkers in Indonesia and France were the least likely to be losing interest, at only 18% and 21%, respectively.

An April 2008 Universal McCann study also found social networking to be a minority activity. As in the other survey, the Dutch had the highest percentage of social networkers. Based on the survey, more than one-third (36.4%) of the total population of the Netherlands said they used social networks at least every other day, compared with 23.4% of the total US population.

Social Networking Users in Select Countries Worldwide, 2008 (millions and % of population)

eMarketer predicts that 44.3% of Internet users in the US will belong to social networks by the end of 2008.

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