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Social-networking newcomers surge in popularity

But MySpace and FaceBook still dominate web

A report from online intelligence service Hitwise shows that the number of visits to social networking sites in the US grew by 11.5 percent from January to February.

The data was based on a custom category of 20 of the leading online community sites ranked by the percentage of traffic they receive.

Although MySpace still ranks number one with over 80 percent market share, the sites with the largest increases in traffic were smaller newcomers to the social networking scene such as Buzznet and iMeem. Between January and February Buzznet, which has a strong emphasis on music and band communities, was up by 148 percent, while iMeem saw an increase of 145.7 percent.

Other sites that have expanded rapidly included Hoverspot, which the data showed was up by 19.6 percent, and Bebo, which saw a traffic increase of 17.8 percent.

The market leader MySpace saw a less impressive increase of 10.2 percent, with the second most popular networking site Facebook up by 9.1 percent between January and February.

LeeAnn Prescott, director of research at Hitwise, said: "While MySpace is still by far the dominant social networking website, sites such as Buzznet and iMeem are successfully building communities around music and other media. The social networking category will continue to grow as new sites emerge with unique offerings."

Visits to social networking sites accounted for 6.5 percent of all internet visits in February this year.


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