Will Social Networking Overtake Search?

Australia Social Network Statistics

For years and years, search has always been the number one reason people go online. Nearly 9 times out of 10 people will start out an Internet session by using Google, Yahoo! or Bing to find a new site or look for information about a product. Advertisers and marketers have spent countless dollars trying to get their attention through sponsored ads.

But, interestingly, new research released from Hitwise earlier this month suggests that in Australia and in other markets across Asia Pacific search may soon move to second most popular online activity – behind social networking. According to the Hitwise report:

Social networks and forums are set to eclipse Search Engines and become the most visited industry for the first time over the coming months, most likely during the weeks immediately before or after Christmas.

The report also shows that search is already the #2 online activity behind social networking in other APAC countries, including Hong Kong and Singapore. Other key findings from the report:

  • 11.7% of all visits to social networks originated in Australia
  • Facebook is currently the #2 Web site in Australia – and it’s projected to overtake Google
  • Search is a popular activity within social networks (MySpace = artists, Facebook = entertainment/utility)
  • 26 minutes, 13 seconds is the average time spent on Facebook per visit

These trends could have huge implications on the massive budgets that are spent very day on pay-per-click and search marketing globally. Already, consumers are spending exponentially more time on social networks (27 percent of all time spent online in Australia in the past month was spent on Facebook, according to Nielsen) than search engines.

As more and more brands become not only findable but engagable on social sites, we could start to see social networks as being not only the #1 online activity but the #1 place online where smart brands invest their marketing and advertising dollars to build community and engagement among their customers.