Posted August 12, 2009 10:56 am by with 2 comments

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facebook2Everyone wants to figure out who has this social media thing figured out. One of the things that gets attention in a hyper covered area like social media is saying something contrary to what appears to be the conventional wisdom. In the UK, we have heard from 15 year ‘analysts’ and now we hear from the UK media regulator, Ofcom that social networking use is down. The Ofcom site defines them as the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, with responsibilities across television, radio, telecommunications and wireless communications services. Their findings as reported by ClickZ states

Last week, U.K. media regulator OfCom released research suggesting the percentage of 15- to 24-year-olds with a profile on a social networking site has dropped for the first time — from 55 percent at the start of last year to 50 percent this year. In contrast, 46 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds are now making use of social networking sites compared with 40 percent last year, leading the body to suggest that older users were driving younger users out of the space.

So there was a little bit of a ripple started saying that interest in the UK for social media among the 15-24 year old group was declining. In steps ComScore who puts the breaks on that theory with the following

Despite recent suggestions that U.K. teens and young adults are losing interest in social networks, research released today by online measurement firm comScore suggests instead that they’re simply gravitating towards one in particular — Facebook.

Mike Read, SVP and managing director, comScore Europe had some more to say about it with

“What does appear to be happening is that younger users are beginning to consolidate around Facebook, and are spending less time on competing sites.”

This trend is highlighted by substantial user losses for the U.K.’s other major social networks — MySpace and Bebo. Last month, comScore released figures suggesting the two experienced a 22 percent and 28 percent reduction in unique visitors, respectively, during the 12-month period ending May 2009.

By contrast, Facebook experienced 57 percent growth in unique users during that period, and darling of the moment Twitter achieved a staggering 3,226 percent increase.

So we go from social networking as a whole is on the decline amongst a particularly attractive market segment to the fact that Facebook is taking over the segment. The second part of that seems to be much more likely and if you are Facebook you obviously like ComScore’s take on the situation. What needs to be looked at as well is that MySpace continues to nosedive and Bebo, who’s stronghold is the European younger set, is losing its footing as well.

So let’s do the math. Facebook is getting investment, doubling revenue goals and taking market share everywhere. They are acting like a – gulp – business. Twitter gets boatloads of hype, hasn’t figured out how to make any money and gets boatloads of hype (Bartz double hat tip!). MySpace and many other social networking sites are losing people to Facebook and Twitter. Well, maybe as we prepare for a two search engine world maybe social networking will have a similar look. Your thoughts?