June 23, 2009, 12:00 AM

Social network use grew 59% in past year

43% of Internet users are now registered on a social network such as Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn compared to 27% a year ago, according to a report by management association The Conference Board and consulting firm TNS.

The number of people online who are using social networks such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter has grown 59% in the last year to 43% from 27% a year ago, according to a new report by management association The Conference Board and consulting firm TNS. The report, based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. households, found that social network use spans generations as well as genders.

"Online social networks are more than just a fad among the younger generation. They`ve become an integral part of our personal and professional lives,” says Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "They`re powerful communication tools, and are becoming an essential part of successful marketing strategies."

About 19% of online users age 55 and older visit social network sites, up from 6% a year ago, and, overall, 48% of women and 38% of men on the Internet use social networking sites. The most popular site is Facebook, used by 78% of online households, followed by MySpace (42%), LinkedIn (17%) and Twitter (10%).

Both men and women use Facebook in equal numbers while 47% of women and 35% of men use MySpace, according to the report. Conversely, 21% of men and 15% of women use LinkedIn. Across generations, Facebook usage is about equal, but when it comes to MySpace, those under the age of 35 are more likely to have an account than their older counterparts, according to the report.

More than half of social network users log on at least once a day, and the majority log on several times a day, according to the findings.

In the survey, 15% said they wanted more interaction with celebrities via the networks while 14% wanted to interact more with their favorite company, 13% listed their service providers and 11% said sports teams.

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