Facebook leads the rise of social nets in UK, but niche players have a window

Even as The Guardian was busy associating Facebook with a CIA plot yesterday, back in the world of its average UK users Facebook continued its inexorable rise. According to Hitwise and Experian today, Facebook accounted for one in every 50 UK Web visits in the last month of 2007, with its market share peaking on Christmas Day (I assume this was people updating their status to say “Happy Christmas”). Facebook’s market share has increased 10-fold over the past 12 months.

More interestingly Facebook is now sending more traffic to other sites outside it’s closed system, accounting for 7.04% of upstream traffic in December. It joins Bebo and Myspace in the top 10 individual URLs sending traffic to other websites last month.

Quite clearly the UK is drunk on Facebook, and whether its connections with the CIA are true or not, government and business needs to look long and hard at where it is headed and the long term implications.

Experian’s research seems to think we will see the rise of the social network ‘super advocate’ – the corporate organisation’s biggest ally or enemy. Meanwhile specialist social networking sites will increase in importance, fuelled by the growth in more influential users. Good news for niche players in the UK and European scene – assuming Facebook does not launch niche versions/communities of course…