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New figures emphasise growing power of social media in UK

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The importance of social media to UK internet users and shoppers is underlined by new statistics from comScore.

Its new research found that nine out of 10 of the 38.2m UK adults who went online in May 2010 visited at least one social networking site. That means 33 million are now social media users, a rise of 13% since the same time last year.

And the number of hours spent on social media has grown by 54% over the past year, up from 4.6 hours in May 2009 to 7.1 hours in May 2010.

Eight out of 10 are now Facebook users, a phenomenon that’s not gone unnoticed by brands, and celebrities.

Lady Gaga recently became the first celebrity to have 10m Facebook fans, and brands and retailers are also more likely to be engaging with consumers through social networks.

Analyst Jamie Gavin, of Jay-G Media said: “The fact that nine in 10 Internet users are now using social media is perhaps unsurprising – these tools have changed the very fabric of the way we use the web and are now as integral to online communications as search or email.

“What is perhaps even more significant is the reverence now being placed on these tools by existing celebrities and brands, as Lady Gaga’s much celebrated recent rise to 10 million Facebook fans has demonstrated. Social media is no longer simply changing the way we think of the Internet, but is infiltrating mainstream celebrity and consumer culture, and changing the very nature of the traditional media we have become accustomed to.”

Our view: These figures may serve to remind online retailers just why they should be considering their social media campaign. Today, internet users stopping off at their social networking site as a matter of course - and that has to offer advantages to retailers who engage with them there.

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