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ComScore's latest numbers: Worldwide social-networking growth

The statistics firm tabulates where the unique users from seven popular social-networking sites are coming from.

Statistics house ComScore released some numbers on Tuesday pertaining to how quickly a handful of popular social-networking sites are growing worldwide, and which ones dominate in which regions of the globe. There's nothing all too notable here, as the global reach of various social-networking sites has been well-documented already--and even mapped. But it's always cool to see numbers, which I suppose is why companies like ComScore exist in the first place.

The main set of numbers tracks worldwide social-networking growth, with June 2006 and June 2007 as the benchmarks, for seven services: MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Orkut, Hi5, Friendster, and Tagged. Tagged, one of the smaller and newer of the bunch, showed the greatest overall growth--a 774 percent increase from 1,506,000 unique visitors in June 2006 to 13,167,000 unique visitors in June 2007. That could be because the San Francisco-based social network simply wasn't on the map until recently; it was founded in 2004 but scored its first round of venture capital in February 2006.

Facebook has, as one may imagine, also grown quite a bit--270 percent, from 14,083,000 uniques to 52,167,000. ComScore charts Bebo as having grown about 172 percent, and Orkut as having grown about 78 percent.

Friendster might be considered an also-ran, at least in the U.S., but according to ComScore's statistics, it's growing almost as quickly as MySpace: 65 percent versus 72 percent. That being said, Friendster's unique visits went from around 15 million to around 25 million, while MySpace's went from about 66.5 million to over 114 million, so we're clearly dealing with vastly different magnitudes here.

Interestingly enough, Hi5, which I've heard talked about as a rising star in the social-networking world, has been growing at a crawl compared with the others--only 56 percent growth from June 2006 to June 2007.

The ComScore statistics also charted where visits to social-networking sites are coming from, based on worldwide region: Out of the seven social-networking sites, the two with the most "balanced" user bases worldwide are Tagged and Hi5. Tagged, according to the ComScore numbers, has 22.7 percent of its base from North America, 14.6 from Latin America, 23.4 from Europe, 10 from Africa and the Middle East, and 29.2 percent from Asia and the Pacific region. Hi5, similarly, is 15.3 percent North American, 24.1 percent Latin American, 31 percent European, 8.7 percent African/Middle Eastern, and 20.8 percent Asia-Pacific.

MySpace and Facebook both have large percentages of their users in North America (62.1 percent for MySpace, 68.4 percent for Facebook) with sizeable portions in Europe (24.7 percent for MySpace, 16.8 percent for Facebook) and single-digit numbers in all other regions. Bebo, most popular in the U.K., is largely the opposite, with 62.5 percent of its users based in Europe, 21.8 percent in North America, and few elsewhere.

Orkut, famous for having a user base virtually restricted to Brazil and India, understandably has almost half its user base in Latin America, almost half in Asia-Pacific, and almost none anywhere else. Friendster, meanwhile, leans the most disproportionately toward a single geographic market: it gathers nearly 89 percent of its user base from the Asia-Pacific region.