Each month, I get a fun little e-mail from Nielsen/NetRatings, the online division of the big-name metrics firm, with some tracking numbers for unique visitors at social media sites--namely, social networks, blogs, and video-sharing sites. They're pretty anecdotal as far as traffic metrics go, but it's still fun to see who's losing and who's gaining--you know, like sports. And each month, I eagerly open the e-mail (no, really) to see if there are any juicy surprises in store. This month's version, which includes numbers for August (percentage growth from August 2006 to August 2007, is sadly low on the juiciness factor. The numbers largely.
First, here's the social network lineup. In short: Facebook's growing fast, but LinkedIn is growing faster. MySpace is growing, but not as fast. AOL's social networks are suffering. Music site Buzznet is riding the early adopter wave, and the Disney-acquired kids' social network Club Penguin hasn't run out of momentum yet. Classmates' growth has slowed a bit, perhaps as the gossip about its potential IPO wanes. All in all, these numbers are almost identical to July's, with no new entrants on the list whatsoever.
Next month may prove to be more interesting for Facebook, to see if there is a spike in September growth as new university students enroll for the site (which started, as you probably recall, as an online replacement for college heralds). Will it grow at an even faster pace than we're already seeing, or are enough high schoolers using Facebook so that they already have accounts when they arrive on campus? In either case, we'll probably see more use of the site now that the school year has started anyway. As any member of the "Facebook generation" could tell you, it's a great time-suck, especially when there's a paper due the next day.
The "top blogs" list continues to bizarrely index blogging platforms like Xanga and Blogger alongside media titles like TMZ.com and Perez Hilton. It would be much easier if these were differentiated into separate categories, but I suppose we'll have to settle for the combined list for now. Like the social-networking numbers, the blog numbers haven't changed much: Google's Blogger is still on top, WordPress is still growing really fast, Xanga continues to shrink, and celebrity gossip still dominates the blogosphere. Geek staples Gizmodo and Engadget have dropped off the list, maybe because August was a quieter month for iPhone news than July had been; we'll see if they jump back up in this month's numbers when those come out.
On the video-sharing rankings, Atom Films has replaced Funny or Die in the bottom notch, and Veoh and Yahoo Video continue to grow much faster than YouTube, whose growth has slowed a bit (81 percent in July's numbers down to 66 percent in August's). It looks as if MySpace's video market share is shrinking, but interestingly enough, it is still using the vids.myspace.com domain for tracking rather than MySpaceTV.com, which launched this summer. Google Video's growth is slowing (down from a 69 percent growth rate in July), perhaps because its parent company has pulled it out of the spotlight in favor of its YouTube purchase.
We'll have to see when the September numbers come out next month if social media patterns have changed along with the season.