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Brits obsessed with social networking

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12th Dec 2007
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As CRM vendors rush to create Web 2.0 front ends for their applications, UK customers are among the most obsessed with social networking technologies.

UK users spend more time on social networking sites than their European counterparts with almost 40 percent of adults with internet access using them. They spend 5.3 hours a month to sites like Facebook and MySpace, visiting them an average of 23 times, according to research by Ofcom.

Almost 40 percent of British adults with internet access were found to use social networking sites compared with 22 percent in Italy, 17 percent in France and 12 percent in Germany. That's more than in America (34 percent) and Japan (32 percent).

Google emerged as the most popular website in all countries except for Japan. Other sites included in the top 10 were Microsoft, eBay, Yahoo, Wikipedia, YouTube, the BBC and Apple.

Ofcom also researched how internet audiences around the world break down between male and female users, after it discovered this summer that in the UK women are overtaking men in some age groups.

The only other place where more women are online is the US, where the divide is 52 percent female to 48 percent male. In the UK the split is 50-50, except in the 18-34 age group, where far more women are surfing the net. Ofcom sees a link between this UK pattern and the popularity of online networking sites.

Advertising spending online has overtaken magazine advertising and is now more than outdoor, cinema and radio advertising combined. UK companies spend more money per person on internet advertising than any other country. The UK currently spends £33 per person, twice as much as France, Germany and Italy combined.

The availability of high speed connections is also helping to drive a surge in online advertising spending, according to Ofcom. "Advertisers in the UK have seen great advantages in targeting campaigns online and in getting feedback," said Ofcom's strategy and markets expert, Peter Philips. "They are taking a global lead on this."

The report also showed that UK consumers were increasingly using their mobiles for video clips and listening to music, and listened to more radio than any other country surveyed. "The report shows that convergence, bundling and the move to digital communications is a powerful global phenomenon," said Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive. "It's important to understand international comparisons so Ofcom can develop better policies to serve the interests of consumers and citizens in the UK."

Oracle recently announced an upcoming version of its Siebel CRM On Demand service that will include social networking features reminiscent of consumer portals such as Facebook or MySpace.

"Oracle's Enterprise 2.0 vision is bringing capabilities users are familiar with around wikis, blogs and discussion forums to enterprise applications using a standards-based model," said Thomas Kurian, senior vice president for Oracle Server Technologies. "Oracle's Enterprise 2.0 vision is to bring capabilities users are familiar with, such as wikis, blogs, RSS, discussion forums and social networks, to enterprise applications using a standards-based programming model that allows you to mix and match services with information systems.”

Meanwhile, Salesforce.com added a new service that allows customers to add other Salesforce.com customers as contacts, much as LinkedIn or Facebook allow individuals to invite people into their networks. Other Web 2.0 additions include a way for companies to use the wisdom of the masses to generate innovation and a product that lets customers integrate social book-marking, tagging and rating on their internal documents as a way of organising information and making it more accessible.

"The consumer web gave rise to business web," said Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff. "The consumer Web is really where the action has been. It's how we entertain ourselves. It's how we shop. How do we do that for our business users as well?"

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