Data released by Hitwise has shown that over the last few weeks, social networking sites have become more popular than search engines in Australia.
During the week ending on 26th December 2009 social networks and forums took a lead over the search engines, in terms of number of visit, for the first time ever.
This peak over the Christmas holidays was followed by a dip in social networking, but the sector has already recovered and social networks and forums are once again showing a definite upward trend.
During the week ending on 16th January 2010, visits to social networks in Australia were only 0.4% behind search engines.
Another trend, which has been visible over the last three months, is that social networking shows a significant rise during the weekends, especially on Sundays. This was first seen by Hitwise on Sunday the 15th of November 2009 and then again on Saturday the 21st and Sunday the 22nd of November 2009.
One remarkable finding pointed out by Hitwise was that while social networking reached its highest point for 2009 on Christmas day at 14.8% share of Internet visits, search engines reached their annual peak on 10th January 2009 at 14.5% share of Internet visits.
Facebook and YouTube both had their highest number of visits on Christmas day with 8.0% and 2.2% of the market respectively.
Search engines still dominate the market in the U.K. and U.S.A. However, if the trend in Australia is an indicator of the future, social media marketing might be set to increase in importance a whole lot more.