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Though the growth in social-networking users in North America is beginning to level off, their numbers are burgeoning in other regions around the world – with Facebook leading the way -?according to a comScore study of worldwide usage of social networking sites.

During the past year, the total North American audience of social networkers has grown 9% compared with a much larger – 25% – growth worldwide.

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The Middle East-Africa region (up 66%), Europe (up 35%), and Latin America (up 33%) have each grown at well-above average rates.

Growth among Top Social Networking Sites

Facebook.com took over the global lead among social networking sites in April and has made a concerted effort to become more culturally relevant in markets outside the US. Its user base, along with those of other top social networking sites, has grown rapidly.

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  • Facebook’s introduction of natural language interfaces in several markets has helped propel the site to 153% growth during the past year.
  • Meanwhile, the emphasis that Hi5.com has put on its full-scale localization strategy has helped the site double its visitor base to more than 56 million.
  • Other social networking sites, including Friendster.com (up 50%), Orkut (up 41%), and Bebo.com (up 32%) have demonstrated particularly strong growth.

Facebook Gains Traction in Europe, Elsewhere

Though Facebook’s largest visitor base is still in North America (49 million), its growth in the region is a relatively modest 38%. In every other region, Facebook’s audience has more than quadrupled.

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Europe is quickly catching up with North America as Facebook’s largest visitor base with 35 million visitors in June – a 303% increase and a net addition of nearly 27 million monthly visitors versus year ago.

Other worldwide regions have seen even more dramatic growth on a percentage basis.

“Facebook has done an exceptional job of leveraging its brand internationally during the past year,” said Jack Flanagan, comScore EVP. “By increasing the site’s relevance to local markets through local language interface translation, the site is now competing strongly or even capturing the lead in several markets where it had a relatively minor presence just a year ago.”

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