Nielsen: Americans Spend a Quarter of Online Time on Social Networks

Today the Nielsen Company released the Q3 – 2011 State of Social Media Report, a snapshot of the current social media landscape and audiences in the U.S. and other major markets. The report offers insights and provides some answers on exactly how powerful the influence of social media is on consumer behavior, both online and off.

The value of the time consumers spend online and on social networks and blogs continues to grow, the report shows, most visible through the influence on purchase decisions. For instance, 60 percent of people who use three or more digital means of research for product purchases learned about a specific brand or retailer from a social networking site.

As the influence of social media – and those using social media – continues to grow, it’s crucial for traditional media, retailers, brands and advertisers to understand how different consumer segments use and share content.

The report shows 4 out of 5 active Internet users visit social media and blogs and close to 40 percent of social media users access it from their mobile phones. Social networks and blogs account for nearly a quarter (22.5 percent) of the time Americans spend online, more than double the time spent playing video games (9.8 percent). And of the top U.S. social networks and blogs, Facebook dominates, with 53 million minutes spent perusing news feeds, updating statuses, posting photos and videos and commenting.

While the majority of consumers still access social media through their computers (97 percent), 37 percent also get to it by their mobile phones. It’s also the second most valued feature on their phones, next to GPS, and above downloading/playing music.

Other key findings include:

  • Social networks and blogs continue to dominate Americans’ time online, now accounting for nearly a quarter of total time spent on the Internet
  • Social networking apps are the third most-used among U.S. smartphone owners
  • 53% of active adult social networkers follow a brand, while 32% follow a celebrity
  • More women view videos on social networks, but men watch longer

When compared to the average adult user, active social networkers are:

  • 45% more likely to go on a date
  • 75% more likely to be heavy spenders on music
  • 26% more likely to give their opinion on politics & current events
  • 47% more likely to be heavy spenders on clothing, shoes & accessories
  • 33% more likely to give their opinion on TV programs