Open Thread: Is Social Networking Killing IM?


Internet usage in Britain has grown by 65 percent over the past three years, according to a new study by the UK Online Measurement Company. But while the proportion of time spent on social networking sites is up to nearly 25 percent from just 7 percent in 2007, IM usage decreased quite markedly over that period of time, dropping to 5 percent from 14 percent.

The study got me thinking about my own IM habits, and upon reflection, I realized that my experience was in line with its findings. A few years ago, I used IM nearly constantly, but nowadays, I mainly use Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with my friends, using IM almost solely for work. And given the number of excellent collaboration tools now available, I don’t even use IM at work as much as I once did.

Interestingly, the study points out that while IM usage has declined, email usage has remained steady, accounting for around 7 percent of online time. Such a finding also corresponds with my own experience (and if you’d like to read more on why email’s sticking around for a while yet, see my post “Email: The Reports of My Death are Greatly Exaggerated” (sub. req.) on GigaOM Pro).

But I’m wondering about the wider WWD readership: Has your IM usage dropped in the past few years, and if so, why?

Photo courtesy Flickr user somegeekintn, licensed under CC-BY-20



I’m a college recruiter working with high-school aged students. I’ve used IM for college recruiting for around 10 years, and my IM info is widely, proactively, and repeatedly distributed.

My experience is that traditional IM (AIM, Yahoo Messenger, etc.) usage has definitely dropped off significantly with this group in the last 2-3 years, and kids have moved to Facebook Chat and text messaging. Facebook Chat requires being Facebook friends, so I don’t chat much with prospective students via Facebook Chat.

The change has been dramatic enough that I’ve moved to a hosted, no-install option (think customer assistance live chat on Web sites) for one-on-one chats instead of IM.

In my work world IM continues to be alive and well for collaboration, though.

Steven R. Miller

I’m with Jack. I wrote about this myself a couple of months ago how much social networking has reduced my IM activity…not necessarily a bad thing either.


Even if the IM e-mail usage has remained steady, considering that social media sites are also developing the e-mail like apps and uses IM is likely to be forgotten.

Leslie A. Joy

I use IM just as much with close friends as I did before, however I rarely im people just to say hi or find out what they’re up to-if they’re in Facebook contacts there’s really no need.


Yes, significantly down. No “hi just catching up” IMs since I presume Facebook etc. do a good job of that in the background. Also down, “What’s new with you ” when you meet your friends in real life.

Shevonne Polastre

Nope, still getting the same amounts of IMs. One thing I have noticed is that I am getting more IMs from people I don’t know who found me via social networking sites.

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