MySpace in September drew 82% of visits among the top 20 social networking sites, increasing its dominance of the Web's fastest-growing category. Overall, one in 20 Internet visits went to social networking sites during the month--nearly double the proportion of traffic a year ago, according to a new report by research company Hitwise.
In addition to the continued growth of MySpace by 51% between March and September, other social sites making big gains in share of traffic include Bolt, up 271%; Bebo, 95%; Orkut, 63%; and Gaia Online, 41%. In terms of average session time, Gaia Online ranked first at 47:01, followed by CrushSpot (30:31); MySpace (30:22); Bebo (25:39); and Tagged (20:33).

The Hitwise study also revealed the impact that social sites have had in driving traffic to other industries on the Web. Shopping and classified sites, for instance, received 2.4% of their visits directly from MySpace in September--an 83% increase since March. Other consumer-oriented industries that received traffic from MySpace in that period include telecommunications, banks, and travel.

"Social networking has become such a significant force on the Web that users are integrating it into other daily Web activities," said LeeAnn Prescott, director of research at Hitwise. "As MySpace grows, it's showing up in the upstream and downstream [traffic] of other categories that you wouldn't necessarily think would be related.

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