Social networks command 23% of all internet time

A sharp rise in the use of social networks in the UK means one in every four and a half minutes online is now spent on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs, according to figures from UKOM.

Social networks and blogs accounted for less than 9 per cent of all UK time spent online three years ago, but this figure has rocketed to 23 per cent in the latest study.

The UK Online Measurement Company (UKOM) report also highlights how Britons are spending 65 per cent more time online generally than they did in 2007.

The study reveals that the biggest casualty in the growth of social media is instant messaging (IM), made popular by MSN and AOL, use of which has decreased by 66 per cent in the past three years.

However, websites including Yahoo! and MSN still recorded a 10 per cent increase in time spent on their sites since 2007. Online games and email also showed a significant usage increase, with Britons spending 15 per cent and 11 per cent of their online time on each respectively.

UKOM's Alex Burmaster said: 'Despite the large increase in the amount of time people spend online and the increasing proliferation of websites and online services, one thing has remained constant, and that is the bulk of time accounted for by communicating, networking and playing games. These are the pillars on which the internet as a heavily used medium are built.'

Separately, while more marketing and communications professionals than last year are embracing social media channels for UK brands, the 2010 McCann Erickson Social Media Index, published today (Wednesday 19 May), shows that many agencies and consultants are not providing enough guidance to their clients on social media.

Almost half of those surveyed (48 per cent) said they still do not feel they have adequate knowledge on how best to use social media channels effectively for marketing purposes.

Although this is down from 64 per cent last year, the figure is still surprisingly high.

Nearly a quarter of respondents (23 per cent) also admitted that advances in social media are difficult to keep up with, and almost the same proportion (22 per cent) said they would like to understand social media more but genuine experts were hard to find.

The McCann survey also found a marked increase in general social media usage for communications activities.

Twitter had the most increased usage (up 28 per cent since 2009), with 61 per cent of those surveyed saying the microblog is regularly used to distribute news stories.

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