Social media moves so fast, it's hard to keep up. Here are the week's top stories in scan-friendly format:

  • Social Networks Continue To Draw More Visitors
  • Yahoo Signs Partnership to Integrate with Twitter
  • Betty White Has a Shot at SNL, Because of Facebook Fans
  • Twitter Passes MySpace For Number of Status Updates

Social Networks Continue To Draw More Visitors

Nielsen, one of the world's most quoted research companies, has reported that social networking use amongst Internet users has increased sharply over the last year. In the month of December 2009, global consumers spent around 5.5 hours on social networking sites, an 82% percent increase over December 2008.

Also, social networks and blogs still rank amongst the most popular online activities, even beating out online gaming and instant messaging. What sites were the most popular online? Facebook won this honor with 207 million unique visitors in the month of December. An impressive 2/3 of all global social media users say they visited Facebook during the month.

Looking internationally, Australians lead the world in time spent on social media sites, with more than 6 hours per person spent on social media followed closely by the United Kingdom.

These numbers should be welcome news to sites such as Twitter and Facebook. It suggests that not only are they adding more new users each day, but these folks are lingering around more on the site, making social media advertising more attractive.

One figure not mentioned in the Nielsen report is if mobile access to Facebook/Twitter are included in the hours per month.

Yahoo Signs Partnership to Integrate with Twitter

As readers probably know, Twitter is a highly addictive property that gives you instant updates on your friends' status, current events and more. Recognizing this, Yahoo has recently announced a deal with Twitter that will bring Twitter integration into many of Yahoo's popular services and portals. In effect, Twitter users can now update their status from the Yahoo home page, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo News, Sports and many other Yahoo properties. Also, Twitter users will be able to see their Twitter timeline on Yahoo sites as well.

As a second part of the agreement, Yahoo will have access to real-time Twitter results in its search engine, much like the deals signed last year between Twitter and Google/Bing.

It is apparent that with this deal, Yahoo is recognizing that Twitter is a sticky service that is likely to be around for quite some time. The Twitter integration is similar to another social networking partnership Yahoo has already built with Facebook.

Betty White Has a Shot at SNL, Because of Facebook Fans

Not long ago, a Facebook page was set up by user David Matthews. Since launching, the fan page has gained almost half a million fans, all rallied around one cause: to give Betty White the chance to host Saturday Night Live. It appears the former star of The Golden Girls has gained some fans on the popular social networking site and these fans want to see the comedy actress on SNL.

Mashable reports that Betty White is not associated with the page, but that she'd welcome the opportunity if the gig came up.

These types of grassroots efforts show how social networking can really affect mass media and public discourse. Obviously, getting Betty White on SNL won't cure cancer or house all the homeless, but it goes to show that when people rally around a cause and use the new "mass media" that is social networking, good things can happen.

Twitter Passes MySpace For Number of Status Updates

Just a few years ago, MySpace was the top dog in social networking. The site had a large user base and was acquired by News Corp. because of the promise it held. However, flash forward to today, where Twitter and Facebook dominate the news in the social media space.

Recently, Twitter announced that they see an average of 50 million status messages posted each day. ReadWriteWeb looked to MySpace to evaluate their figures, and counted that they have around 33 million status messages per day. In effect, this means that Twitter is updated now more than MySpace — a pretty interesting development.

However it should be pointed out that MySpace is still used to a high degree. 33 million status messages per day is a large number in and of itself. So, the old guy on the block isn't dead yet, but he has been passed up by the new kid. How MySpace responds will be watched carefully, I'm sure.