SINGAPORE: Over 240 million consumers in Asia Pacific accessed social networking services in February this year, a new study has found.

ComScore, the research firm, assessed online habits in 12 countries in the region, and reported that 240.3 million people in the area visited at least one social network in the second month of 2010.

This equated to 50.8% of the internet population across the featured nations, with the average netizen spending 149 minutes engaged in this pastime, and returning 15 times to portals like Facebook.

More specifically, social networking had a reach of 90.3% in the Philippines, where web users invested 332 minutes in this activity over the course of 26 discreet sessions.

Some 89.6% of the online audience in Australia were members of these platforms, with this group recording a normal dwell time of 228 minutes and logging in on 21 different occasions.

The penetration rate stood at 88.6% in Indonesia, where the typical profile took the form of 324 minutes of usage spread across 23 visits.

In India, 68.5% of internet users committed 130 minutes to reading content and sending messages in the same way, doing so 13 times in all.

Japan, one of the region's most technologically-advanced markets, recorded the lowest level of popular uptake, on 42.3%, with participants active for two hours, and for under nine minutes per session.

One reason for this trend may be that comScore's estimates only incorporated personal computers, whereas mobile phones are often the favoured way for accessing this kind of services among Japanese consumers.

Elsewhere, members of social networks in Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand and Hong Kong all spent more than 200 minutes on these sites during the month, split between 20 different trips.

Facebook had a total reach of 14.9% in the countries that were included in ComScore's analysis, making it the number one offering in the category overall.

Its penetration climbed to over 80% in the Philippines and Indonesia, and also surpassed 70% in both Malaysia and Singapore.

Around six in every ten netizens in New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong also belonged to Facebook.

Wretch took the top spot in Taiwan, on 62.5%, with CyWorld leading the rankings in South Korea on 54.2%, a position held by Orkut in India on 46.8% and Mixi in Japan on a more modest 18.9%.

"While social networking continues to be one of the most popular and fastest growing web activities in the world, its dynamics in the Asia-Pacific region exhibit significantly more individual market differentiation than in other global regions," said Will Hodgman, comScore's evp for Asia Pacific.

Data sourced from comScore; additional content by Warc staff