It's fitting that the world's largest social network would also receive the most traffic.
Facebook netted 58.6 percent of all U.S. visits among a HitWise survey of 155 social networking Websites in September 2009, a 194 percent increase over the site's market share from September 2008. HitWise gauged the online traffic of 10 million U.S. Web users across 1 million Websites.
In September 2008, MySpace was the leading social network with a 66.8 percent share, while Facebook notched only 19.95 percent of the U.S. social network traffic. MySpace in September 2009 logged 30.3 percent of the U.S. social network visits, plummeting 55 percent from the year-ago period.
It's official: Facebook is soundly thrashing one-time social network leader MySpace, though the site credited with kick-starting the mainstream social networking gold rush was far and away the No. 2 social site. Tagged was No. 3 at 2.4 percent of the September 2009 U.S. share, with Twitter and MyYearbook rounding out the top five social site ranks, grabbing 1.8 percent and 1 percent share, respectively.
Twitter boasted astronomical growth, up 1,170 percent from its negligible 0.15 percent market share from September 2008. As far as social sites go, Twitter is positioned to be Facebook's biggest challenger.
While the site's functionality is limited to 140-character messages and real-time search, the microblogging service is armed with an undisclosed new round of financing and is in the midst of rolling out its geolocation API and a lists feature to help members curate groups online. However, Facebook has shown an inclination toward moving closer to real-time search, and both sites seem to be swapping features.
U.S. visits to social networking Websites increased 62 percent in September 2009 from September 2008, though users are spending less time on the sites when they visit. HitWise said time spent on social networking Websites decreased 20 percent in September 2009 from the year-ago period.
Facebook saw the largest growth in average time spent among the top five sites, increasing 23 percent in September 2009 to 23 minutes, from 18:38 a year ago. Time spent is where MySpace, which boasts 130 million users, is still the reigning champ. MySpace logged the highest average time spent among the top five most visited social networking Websites, with 25 minutes and 56 seconds. However, this was a decrease of 12 percent compared with September 2008.
For folks who like to know what age groups are frequenting social networking sites, HitWise found that almost 55 percent of social network users are 18 to 34 years of age. Users between the ages of 18 and 24 made up the biggest age group with 32.3 percent, while users 25 to 34 netted 26.9 percent of U.S. visits.
Older citizens seem to be flocking to social networks to connect with people, perhaps friends geographically dispersed or with whom they'd fallen out of touch. U.S. visits to social networking Websites from users 55 and older increased 77 percent from September 2008.
Facebook visitors aged 55 and older increased 108 percent in September 2009 compared with September 2008. Visitors from that age group increased 26 percent on MySpace.