Social networks are selling like hot cakes

The first one to spot a trend here, wins his/her own island in Second Life (no, not really). Last week the publishing house Holtzbrinck bought the German social network StudiVZ. This morning it was announced that Swedish based broadcasting group MTG buys youth community Playahead. And today we can read on that Hearst Magazines Digital Media yesterday bought the teen social networking site eCrush with one million monthly unique visitors.

How long can LunarStorm, the #1 Swedish online community stay independent? I give them six months. What do you think?

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German social network sold for 85 million euro

StudiVZ, a large German online social network for students, has been sold to the publishing house Holtzbrinck for about 85 million Euros. Another media giant, Axel Springer, was involved in the bidding process but apparently Holtzbrinck already had a minority stake in StudiVZ and won the battle.

Holtzbrinck owns for example DIE ZEIT and Handelsblatt. [Via Paidcontent]

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20 social networking sites make up 4.9% of all online visits

Hitwise has published a very interesting report about CGM – Consumer Generated Media. The report provides a detailed picture of social networking and video sharing websites.

Some of the findings include:

– In September 2006, the market share of visits to the top 20 social networking websites accounted for 4.9% of all Internet visits. This was an increase of 94% compared to September 2005.
– Photobucket is the leading image hosting website, and its market share of visits has grown by 43% from March 2006 to September 2006.
– The market share of visits to YouTube increased by 249% in the six months from March to September 2006, and in September was the 26th most visited website by US Internet users.
– MySpace remains the king of social networking sites with 81.92% market share.

We also see that these sites are driving traffic into commercial websites:
– The share of upstream traffic from MySpace for the Telecommunications category was 89% greater in September 2006 than it was in March 2006.
– An apparel and accessories websites like Hot Topic received 17.4% of upstream visits from MySpace, which was its leading source of traffic.

Quite impressive numbers and a clear sign of the impact social networking sites have on consumers and businesses.

Did Lunarstorm miss the boat?
With these impressive figures at hand, you’ve got to wonder how the Swedish success community site Lunarstorm has been able to miss the social networking boom, or maybe they just peaked early. I did a comparison with Friendster which shows a depressing decline in usage of Lunarstorm. Now, I don’t know if Alexa’s numbers are anywhere near correct, but if they are, Lunarstorm is losing the battle. Statistics from KIA Index at least support the theory that Lunarstorm had more visitors in early 2006 than they do now. Does anyone know what the long term trend looks like?



MySpace reached 100 million users

The social networking site MySpace today reached one hundred million registered users. The milestone was reached today at 2.41 PM CET and the last few hours the site got about 70-80 new members per minute, according to my own observations.

I watched the site to see when the magic number would be reached, unfortunately the page of member #100,000,000 seems to be invalid:;=100000000

In April this year, Aber Whitcomb, chief technology officer of MySpace, predicted that the site would serve 100 million members in January 2007, a goal the site now reached 5 months earlier. According to Wikipedia, MySpace is the most popular website in the United States and is currently growing with 500,000 new users each week.

(I registered a page too, but only managed to come as near as 100 million as number 99999927)

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Social networks go online

I was recently approached by a journalist who wished to test a theory that kids and teenagers spend time online to build and maintain relationships but adults primarily go online in search of information. My take was that if there ever was a difference, it has disappeared the last few years and adults connect to communities almost to the same extent as young people. The new study “The Strength of Internet Ties” from the Pew Internet and American Life Project seems to suggest I might be on to something.

From the report, about the fears that social relationships are fading away in America:

“Instead of disappearing, people’s communities are transforming: The traditional human orientation to neighborhood- and village-based groups is moving towards communities that are oriented around geographically dispersed social networks. People communicate and maneuver in these networks rather than being bound up in one solidary community. Yet people’s networks continue to have substantial numbers of relatives and neighbors — the traditional bases of community — as well as friends and

“With the help of the internet, people are able to maintain active contact with sizable social networks, even though many of the people in those networks do not live nearby.”

In my survey of blog readers last year, I found that a large portion of Swedish bloggers are anonymous (6 out of 10 women), which could suggest that many people are able to maintain parts of their social network online even without revealing their true identity.