As a bit of a statistical nerd, I like to keep an eye on the latest statistics on social network usage. Anybody who reads the Tamar blog will know that I regularly report on how Facebook in particular is growing, but until recently I had very little to compare it against.

Finding accurate and up-to-date information on MySpace is nye-on impossible (unless I’m missing a trick?) and Bebo proved fairly hard to find as well. We’ve all heard that Bebo is supposed to be the social network of choice for kids, and Facebook proves much more popular for the older generation, but do the numbers back this up?

I was chatting with a school-teacher friend over the weekend, and she (and her young son) both claimed that even the younger teens are moving over to Facebook now, which got me wondering how much this reflected the stats.

Luckily, after a recent meet-up with the guys at Bebo I was able to get some recent figures to compare against, so I thought I’d do exactly that…

All figures are UK-only; Facebook figures come direct from Facebook’s own ad-targetting tool, and Bebo’s originally come from comScore, via their own internal numbers at Bebo. Unfortunately I was unable to get any decent MySpace figures to compare against, so you’ll just have to make your own conclusions about their breakdowns!

The raw numbers - Facebook vs Bebo

The obvious conclusion you can draw from the above is that Facebook is clearly streets ahead in terms of users, almost 20m compared to Bebo’s 8m. But looking at the teen end of the graph, Bebo are clearly winning hands down with the ‘yoof’ of today. Looking at the numbers from a percentage angle makes this even more clear:

Facebook vs Bebo, the percentages

Before anybody comments (as I most likely would as well!) that the brackets I’ve split the numbers in to are a little odd, I should point out that I did this purely because of the way the data from Bebo is split. I can get Facebook’s numbers in any number of ways, so I thought it best to work to the Bebo brackets at this point. 

I won’t bore you with a long list of my opinions on the ways you should treat the two differently, as I’m sure many people have done it better than I ever could. But I guess my main take-home would be not to discount Bebo purely on the numbers.

I’m as guilty as the next man (probably more) at over-hyping Facebook, and as a social networker I spend far more time on that than I do on Bebo. But from a marketing and brand perspective, I definitely feel that it’s important to remember Bebo in your social media strategy, especially if your user demographics are leaning towards the young end of the market.