With 6.5 million unique visitors in May 2007, MySpace remains the most popular social network in the UK.
May saw the first monthly drop in traffic for MySpace since June 2006 and only the second drop since November 2005, according to web research company Nielsen/NetRatings.
Over the past six months, Facebook’s audience has grown at 19 times the rate of MySpace’s – 523per cent compared to 28per cent. Bebo has grown by 49 per cent.
MySpace remains the most popular social network in the UK, but the gap is closing. “If last month’s growth rates were to remain consistent, both Bebo and Facebook would catch MySpace in September this year,” said Alex Burmaster, European internet analyst at Nielsen//NetRatings.
“MySpace trails the other two when it comes to user engagement. Bebo leads the way, with its average visitor spending just over an hour and a half on the site – almost ten more minutes than the average ‘Facebooker’ and almost a whole hour more than the average ‘MySpacer’,” he added.
May 2007 saw US company Facebook become relatively more popular in the UK than the US for the first time – being visited by 10 per cent of the UK internet population compared to nine per cent of the US internet population.
However, MySpace is far more dominant in the US than the UK – having four times the visitors of Facebook stateside, compared to twice the number of visitors in the UK.
Meanwhile Bebo’s success was revealed to be largely UK-based – visited by 12 per cent of Britons online compared to just one per cent of the US online population.
"We are still growing even though we're up against Facebook, which is a great product. It's like a cooler, younger LinkedIn networking platform, enabling groups and linking up," said Sarah Gavin, global communications director at Bebo.
"We're much more about self expression and allowing our young users to be creative. MySpace doesn't go as deep. We're plan to make the Bebo user experience deeper becuase we know that's what works.... it's about doing more than just 'hanging out'. I think we are good at recognising our strengths, users can't network as well round MySpace as its so big and a bit cluttered," she added.
The jury is out on who will win the social networking gauntlet. And who's to say that there won't soon be more contenders?
“It will be interesting to see when the dust settles who will come out
on top and whether they stay there for very long,” added Burmaster.