Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Friendship is number one attraction of social networking sites

Today, interaction with others has become instant, and staying in touch is a click away. For a person, keeping in touch with people he knows is the strongest reason for joining a social networking site, according to a survey on 'the usage patterns of Social Networking websites' conducted recently in India by The Nielsen Company. A vast majority of respondents (82 percent) agree with this.

The survey also found that over half (58 percent) joined a social networking site to reconnect with old acquaintances they have lost touch with. A 53 percent join such sites to make new friends. Professional networking was a strong fourth for 43 pecent.

"The biggest advantage of a social networking site is how you can build and use the network with friends, business associates and people with similar interests. These days, the world has become a global village, and social networking sites are bringing people closer together and helping them to interact and share their thoughts within the group, no matter where in the world they are," said N.S.Muthukumaran, Director, Online Research, The Nielsen Company.
Three quarters of Indian respondents have been using social networking websites for two or more years and two-thirds spend more than half an hour on each session. All had a very positive attitude towards social networking websites. The majority (71 percent) consider social networking sites to be cool, but 66 percent believe that social networking sites are no substitute for actual face-to-face meetings with friends, and 43 percent of respondents even consider it safe to meet people face-to-face whom they have met online.

"Though social networking sites are popular, they lack the bond established in face-to-face interaction. The non-verbal communication is missing in online friendships," said Muthukumaran.

A majority of users believe in revealing their real identity on social networking sites. Security reasons were cited by 68 percent of the respondents for using alternate identities on sites. They prefer not to reveal their personal details. 35 percent chose to use an alternate identity "Just for fun".
Nielsen found more than half of the respondents had more than 50 or more friends on the social networking website they use more often. However, there is a skew in the male-female ratio of friends depending on whether it is a male user or a female user. Males have a greater number of male friends. Females on the other hand, have a more equal split between male and female friends on social networking sites.
Nielsen did the survey by using its online research panel "Your Voice."

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