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Social networking accounts for 1 in every 5 online minutes : Time for your law firm to reevaluate what it is doing?

Per comScore’s just released report, “It’s a Social World: Top 10 Need-to-Knows About Social Networking and Where It’s Headed,” social networking now leads as the top online activity globally.

  • Social networking is the most popular online activity worldwide: Social networking accounted for nearly 1 in every 5 minutes spent online globally in October 2011, ranking as the most engaging online activity worldwide. Social networking sites now reach 82 percent of the world’s Internet population age 15 and older that accessed the Internet from a home or work computer, representing 1.2 billion users around the globe.
  • It’s not just young people using social networking anymore – it’s all age groups: Although young users age 15-24 still represent the most highly-engaged segment of social networkers, with an average of 8 hours per visitor spent in the category in October, social networking is catching on among older age segments across the globe. In fact, people age 55 and older represented the fastest-growing age segment in global social networking usage, with the penetration of social networks in the segment increasing nearly 10 percentage points since July 2010 to 80 percent in October 2011.
  • The importance of Facebook cannot be overstated: In October, Facebook reached more than half (55 percent) of the world’s global audience and accounted for 1 in every 7 minutes spent online around the world and 3 in every 4 social networking minutes.
  • Microblogging has emerged as a disruptive new force in social networking: In recent years, microblogging has taken hold as a popular social networking activity on a global scale. In October, Twitter reached 1 in 10 Internet users worldwide, growing 59 percent in the past year. Other popular microblogging destinations seeing rapid adoption include Chinese site Sina Weibo, with its audience growing 181 percent in the past year to rank as the tenth largest social network in October. Tumblr, which ranked twelfth worldwide in audience size, grew 172 percent in the past year.
  • Mobile devices are fueling the social addiction: In the U.S., 64 percent of smartphone users accessed social networking sites at least once in October 2011, with 2 in 5 smartphone owners connecting via social networking nearly every day. In the EU5, 45 percent of smartphone owners accessed social networks on their mobile device during the month, with nearly 1 in 4 doing so on a near daily basis.

Law firms should also note that social networking gained at the expense of email communication and offline social networking, often used business development methods for lawyers.

Time spent on social networking sites gained ground during this time by taking share predominantly from web-based email and instant messengers, reflecting its emergence as another primary communication channel for users. Unmistakably, it has evolved over the years to become an integral part of the global online experience, in many ways both mirroring and augmenting the offline social experience.

Networking to build and nurture relationships, the leading way good attorneys and law firms bring in legal work requires going where your target market is. Increasingly, that means networking via social network sites in addition to networking offline.

Those law firms and attorneys who have not taken the time to understand social networking and how to leverage its power may want to reevaluate their approach to business development.

Hat tip to MSNBC’s Technolog Editor, Athima Chansanchai, for turning me on to the report in her post this morning.