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Nielsen: Social Media More Powerful Than God, er, Google

  |  September 12, 2011   |  Comments

Facebook and other social platforms account for nearly a quarter of all time spent on the Internet.

Social networks and blogs continue to suck up consumer attention, according to a new report from Nielsen. But that doesn't mean traditional media is losing mindshare.

By far the largest attention-suck is Facebook, according to Nielsen's "State of the Media: The Social Media Report – Q3 2011." In May 2011 alone, Americans spent more than 53 billion minutes Facebooking - almost 101 years in total. Social media account for nearly a quarter of the total time spent on the Internet.

This usage is fueled at least in part by the rapid growth of smart phone penetration. The study found almost 40 percent of social media users accessed their networks from their mobile phones. Users over 55 were the most rapidly growing segment of mobile social networkers.

Nielsen hasn't made an analysis of whether overall web usage has grown thanks to mobile access, but Radha Subramanyam, SVP for consumer insights and analytics for Nielsen, believes that is generally the case.

"One out of four minutes is spent strictly online in the traditional sense," Subramanyam says. Meanwhile, "The overall media pie has been growing, and that's true across television, online and mobile." Pie expansion is partly the result of multi-taskers consuming two or more media types simultaneously. The one medium that has declined, she noted, is email.

The stats held true across ten global markets. In each, social networks and blogs were the top online destinations, accounting for the majority of time spent online and reaching at least 60 percent of active Internet users.

As a result, traditional content creators have found themselves increasingly mediated by social media. While word of mouth has always played a role in media recommendations, social media, whether fixed web or mobile, allows one person's mouth to have global reach.

Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other social networking tools frequently act as portals to traditional content. A recent Nielsen study completed with AOL found that one in four messages has a link to some form of content.

What does this mean for Nielsen's clients? Subramanyam says, "Our clients are beginning to realize they should embrace this as another way of getting their messages out. In some cases, you should have social enhance your other content relationships. "



Susan Kuchinskas

Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.

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