The use of social networking sites is continuing its meteoric rise, and has increased by 83 per cent in the past year in the US alone, according to figures from Nielsen Media Research.
Facebook leads the pack in terms of traffic and time spent at a social networking site, logging more than 13.8 billion minutes of usage time in April. The figure represents an increase of more than 700 per cent over April 2009, when Facebook lagged behind MySpace, which saw its traffic fall by 31 per cent over the year.
While Facebook took over the top ranking, micro-blogging site Twitter saw the biggest jump in traffic over the past year. Usage time grew from 7.8 million minutes in April 2008, to almost 300 million minutes in April 2009.
However, although Facebook and Twitter are the current hot sites on the web, researchers warn that they are far from being established web giants.
Jon Gibs, vice president of online media and agency insight at Nielsen, highlighted the fickle nature of the market, evoking such former social networking heavyweights as Friendster that quickly vanished when newer services stormed in.
"The one thing that is clear about social networking is that, regardless of how fast a site is growing or how big it is, it can quickly fall out of favour with consumers," said Gibs.
"Consumers have shown that they are willing to pick up their networks and move them to another platform, seemingly at a moment's notice."
News of the increase in time spent at social networking sites comes amid debate over the role such sites play in the workplace. A recent study suggested that, when used in moderation, such sites can help morale and productivity, although the same study also warned of the risk of addiction to such sites.
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