AOL’s Social Networks Not Looking So Good

    August 17, 2007

If it’s a well-known social network, and it’s not owned by AOL, it’s probably in okay shape.  That’s what I’m starting to conclude, anyway, after viewing the latest numbers from Nielsen//NetRatings; among the top ten sites, everything other than AOL Hometown and AOL People Connection is going up.

Granted, the data comes from the stretch between July of 2006 and July of 2007, so it doesn’t represent the latest bumps and shifts.  Yet in that period, Hometown and People Connection lost 18 and 42 percent, respectively, in terms of growth.  Leaders MySpace and Facebook gained 33 and 129 percent.

The real miracles took place a little further down the list; Club Penguin and LinkedIn, which are ranked seventh and eighth, both grew by exactly 268 percent.  In regards to that first site, CNET’s Caroline McCarthy notes, “A couple of the names on the July list are riding the word-of-mouth wave: kiddie network Club Penguin, for example, was just purchased by Disney . . .”

And we mustn’t forget Buzznet.  McCarthy reports that this “music-based site . . . is just making its debut,” and what a debut – in terms of a percentage change, it’s gained 423 percent in the past year.  In terms of a unique audience, Buzznet is now at 3.3 million users, compared to MySpace’s 61.3 mil, which puts it last among the top ten sites.

As for the rest of Nielsen//NetRatings’s top ten, Classmates Online was third, Windows Live Spaces was fourth, and was sixth.  The aforementioned AOL Hometown and AOL People connection were fifth and ninth.  Now that does it for the list, and for this article.