One in six page views in UK are Facebook - Facebook

Britons are obsessed with social networking, with one in six webpages visited in the UK being a Facebook page, according to research published today by Hitwise.

The research group found that Facebook is the second most visited website in the UK, taking 7.14 percent of all UK website visits. Google beat it to first place with 9.59 percent of web visits, but Facebook still managed to get the highest number of page views over any other website, at 16.73 percent, with Google trailing at less than half those.

Hitwise also discovered that Facebook accounted for 54.48 percent of social networking site visits, clearly suggesting that it is still firmly in the lead, despite substantial growth for other websites like Twitter. In July it reached the milestone of half a billion registered users, including 26 million in the UK, revealing that it is still on the rise despite monumental privacy concerns.

Clearly the importance of social networking in people's lives accounts for the substantial adoption in the UK. 26 million people in a 62 million region is an extremely high number, particularly considering not all people will have access to a computer or the internet and may not be computer literate.

The ability to network with people, to catch up with old pals, to share what's going on, and to keep up to family, friends, and colleagues makes social networking a vital aspect of modern society. We won't be surprised if a recruitment agency sends out yet another release about the UK losing out on dosh because workers are obsessed - missing the point of networking in the business space, again.

However, Hitwise warned that Facebook may have reached its saturation point in the UK and this high level of growth may slow down significantly. 

Facebook's UK page view market share trebled over the last five years, but that growth has slowed down over the last six months. In fact, in July there was a small decline in market share, but Hitwise believes this may be due to the Summer holiday period rather than a problem with Facebook adoption itself.

The report also discovered a slowdown in the rate of average time spent on Facebook. Over the last two years the average time went rapidly from under 20 minutes to 30 minutes, which is a significant period of time for social networking. This year, however, that figure has dropped to just over 27 minutes and appears to be continuing to fall. Hitwise still sees the number as high, but it is apparent that Facebook may be near to reaching its peak in the UK. 

“Cleary Facebook is not losing traffic in the UK, but do these stats point to a stabilisation?” asks Robin Goad, Research Director at Hitwise UK. “The rapid period of the site’s growth is now probably over in the UK, but does that mean Facebook has reached saturation point?”