The Explosion of Social Networking

 In Communications, Philanthropy

Recently the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project released a new report on how adults use sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace. One of the report’s main findings was that the share of adult Internet users who have a profile on an online social network site has more than quadrupled in the past four years – from 8% in 2005 to 35% now, according to a December 2008 survey.

Overall they found that social networking is more popular for personal use than professional use, and most adults are using online social networks, like Facebook, to connect with people they already know.

Last week Facebook passed its five-year mark and now has over 150 million users (70% joined in 2008 alone). The company suggests that their rapid growth can be attributed to a safe and trusted environment where everyone can have a “voice to express ideas and initiate change.”

Several nonprofits in the U.S. are using social networking as a way to engage and inform constituents. Green For All, a nonprofit that promotes green-collar jobs and opportunities for the disadvantaged is on many social media channels, including Facebook, where it has over 3,500 “fans.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy, a nonprofit newspaper, is using the social networking site Twitter, a platform for sharing quick and short updates. Compared to Facebook’s 150 million users, Twitter, the younger of the two, has about 5 million members, and 5,000 to 10,000 new accounts open daily.

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