NEW YORK: Nearly two-thirds of consumers who regularly use the internet have joined a social networking website such as Facebook or MySpace, a global study by Universal McCann reports.

The company surveyed 22,729 internet users aged between 16 and 54 years old across 38 different countries, including Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, the UK and US. (To be included, respondents needed to access the web at least every other day.)

It found that "consumers are starting to focus their digital life around the likes of Facebook, MySpace and Orkut", and are moving away from platforms such as Flickr and Blogger.

A total of 71.1% of its sample have viewed the profile page of one of their friends on a social network at some point in the last six months, while 64.1% have "spent time managing their own profile" on such a site in this period.

Some 85% of the Russian online population belongs to a social media portal, compared with 64% of their counterparts in the UK, 59% in the US and Spain, 50% in France, and 47% in Germany.

However, China houses the biggest SNS audience, at 111.8 million people, with the US on 57.8 million, Brazil on 15.6 million, and the UK on 12.1 million.

This figure falls to 11.9 million in South Korea, 11.5 million in Germany, and 10.2 million in both France and Japan.

When asked what they used these web properties for, 81.5% of participants said they "messaged" friends, with 76.3% uploading photos, 74.3% tracking down old friends, and 56.4% trying to make new ones.

Just over a third have added "widgets" to their own member page on an SNS portal, with 24% of this group doing so in an effort to impress other people.

Other popular activities included joining groups, mentioned by 47.9% of contributors, while 33% had uploaded video, 29.9% aimed to make contacts for professional purposes, and 29.1% wrote a blog.

The vast majority of web users, 83% in all, regularly watched online video, a figure rising to 90% in each of the Latin American markets assessed, and which reached 80% in three-quarters of the countries surveyed.

Some 71% of netizens frequently read blogs, up 1% on an annual basis, while 40% said they either wrote or commented on this form of user-generated content.

Moreover, nearly a fifth of the those polled have accessed the web via their mobile phone, with 17% doing so while travelling, as well as at home.

In the US, 66% of respondents read blogs, and 33% wrote them, while 83% of web users in the country watched online video at some point during the half-year before the survey took place.

A further 60% of Americans have updated their social networking profile in the last six months, with 67% viewing one belonging to a friend.

Over 90% of Brazilian web users had consumed online video, falling to 84% when it comes to visiting a friend's SNS page, 72% for managing their own, 62% for reading a blog and 51% for authoring one.

Similarly, in India, 87% of people had streamed online video content, while 80% had been active on a social media service to update their own page or view that of another member.

Nine out of ten Chinese respondents read blogs, compared with 82% who visited a friend's SNS page, and 72% who had updated their own, while 81% had a personal blog and 89% played back video on the web.

Just 25% of British consumers kept a blog, while 64% modified their own page on a social network, 71% accessed that belonging to one of their contacts, and 79% watched online video.

Data sourced from Universal McCann; additional content by WARC staff