Social Networks More Popular Than Pornography

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The likes of Twitter and Facebook are now seeing more visits than entertainment sites, including porn

Social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter are the most popular type of website in the UK, trumping even pornography, Experian Hitwise said this week.

Hitwise found that, during January, social networks accounted for 12.4 percent of all UK Internet visits, for the first time overtaking the company’s ”Entertainment category. That category includes pornography, previously thought to be one of the leading drivers of the growth in Internet usage.

Social networks on the rise

Across the 9,000 social networks monitored by Hitwise there were more than 2.4 billion visits from UK Internet users during the month, the highest monthly total to date.

The ‘Social Networks and Forums’ category enlarged itself by 17 percent in January and users increased the amount of time they spent on such sites, with the average session time on a social network rising to 22 minutes.

The range and diversity of social networks is rising, with one in every eight people leaving a social network immediately visiting another one.

“Facebook, for example, is a key source of traffic for many smaller social networks; while almost a fifth of people leaving Twitter go on to visit another social network,” said Experian Hitwise research director Robin Goad in a statement.

Facebook accounted for 56 percent of the social networking industry’s traffic in January, Hitwise said.

E-commerce sites left out

Goad said e-commerce websites need to make more effective use of the rising social media trend.

“Social networks have become a key source of traffic from many websites, particularly those distributing content and chasing ‘eyeballs’. But transactional websites – those selling goods or services such as travel or insurance online – still rely primarily on search for their traffic and therefore sales,” he wrote. “Successful transactional websites will be those that learn to harness the power of social networks, driving traffic through to their own websites.”

As social media sites grow more ingrained into users’ daily lives they are taking on new roles. This month Facebook began working with the Samaritans to prevent suicides, and was used to deliver a court order for the first time in the UK.

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