Internet reaches over 625m global users with two-thirds using social networking sites

LONDON - The total estimated global active internet audience is now 625m and nearly two-thirds of these users have joined a social networking site, according to UM's fourth 'Power to the People' social media study.

The survey charts the growth of social media in the past 12 months. It says that almost 63% of active internet users (consumers who go online once a day or every other day) have now created a social networking profile of some kind, compared to 57% in UM's previous Power to the People survey, published in March 2008. 

Wave four of UM's study, which looks at the global uptake and usage of social media platforms, reveals that social network users are now more likely to upload videos and photos, blog or upload widgets than they were in previous years.

Over 76% of social networkers upload photos, which has increased from 45% in wave three of the study. 33.1% now upload videos, compared to 21.1% last time, and 29.1% now write a blog (up from 16.9%).

Almost 34% of social network users install widgets for their own use and 24% install them to impress visitors to their profile page.

The survey also revealed that mobile internet usage has reached nearly a fifth of all active internet users -- 17% now access internet on the move as well as at home, work or college.

Blogging has nearly reached saturation in terms of total numbers, with 71% reading blogs, a small increase from 70% in March 2008.

The percentage of online active users that watch video clips online has remained fairly static since the previous study. Almost 83% of users watch video clips online, compared to almost 84% in the last survey.

UM questioned 22,729 active internet users in 38 countries between November 2008 and March 2009 for this latest study, making it the largest global analysis of social media usage. The first study was published in September 2006.

Glen Parker, research director at UM EMEA, said: "Social media is a very fast evolving landscape and one that's taking an increasingly important role in consumers' digital lives.

"Brands that want to engage with consumers in these spaces need to understand how and where and why they are using the many different platforms that enable content creation and sharing.

"Although the explosive growth of social media has attracted a lot of media coverage and hype only 'Power to the People' -- which began in 2006 and now has four waves of detailed and comparable data -- has been able to track actual usage."

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