Social networks overtake webmail

Traffic to social networking sites has overtaken webmail services in the UK for the first time. The top 25 social networking sites, including Facebook, Bebo and MySpace, now account for more than 5% of UK internet traffic, according to figures released by Hitwise.

Social networks overtake webmail

“This confirms that social networks are starting to eat into the web-based email providers’ dominance of the internet messaging market,” says a Hitwise statement.

“A growing proportion of the UK online population is choosing to communicate with friends via social networks rather than email.”

As well as receiving large amounts of traffic, social networks are also driving traffic to third party sites, as users share information and links with each other. The number of outgoing clicks from social networking sites has now risen to match that of webmail services.

The Hitwise figures also show that age plays an important role in internet users habits; older users still prefer email, while younger users are more likely to use social networks.

The huge amount of traffic that social networks are receiving means that advertising is an obvious source or revenue. Facebook launched a new advertising system this week, which will allow brands to create a profile page for products, as well as advertise on users’ news feeds.

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