Mobile social networking is rapidly expanding in Western Europe, experiencing 152% growth from November 2007 to November 2008 and racking up 12.1 million users during that time in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, according to M:Metrics data from comScore, Inc.
The UK boasts the highest year-over-year growth of mobile social networking, at 167%, and the highest penetration, at nine percent. This penetration is nearly triple that of Germany, where the activity is the least popular. The average penetration rate across all countries is five percent.
The data also reveals that more than one-third (34%) of Western European mobile phone users access social networking sites exclusive of all other mobile web content.
“A large portion of the growth in the mobile internet audience can be attributed to social networking,” said Alistair Hill, analyst, comScore M:Metrics. “In the UK, for example, the audience of those accessing news and information, but not social networking services, with their mobile browser or an application grew by 149,000 unique users, whereas the number of those exclusively accessing social networking grew by six times that number in the past year.”
Mobile Social Networking Heavier Among Females
comScore also analyzed the demographics of social media users in Europe, and found that those who use social networking exclusive of other mobile Internet content skew more female than those who consume other forms of mobile internet content.
Women comprise 48% of the audience accessing only social media, but only 32% of those who access other types of mobile internet content. In addition, the median age for social media-only users is 28 years, vs. 36 for other mobile internet users.
“This development is encouraging for the future of the mobile Internet,” said Hill. “Social networking is taking the mobile internet out of the early adopter demographic, and into the mainstream.”
comScore M:Metrics also released the results of its Mobile Benchmark Study as it specifically relates to Europe. Social networking and e-mail usage posted some of the largest gains, while playing downloaded games and watching video dipped in most European markets.