According to new research from The Nielsen Company, Americans now devote nearly a quarter of their time (22.7 percent) online to social networking sites and blogs –that’s up 43 percent from just one year ago.
The research revealed that Americans spend the largest portion of their online time (36 percent) communicating and networking across social networks, blogs, personal email and instant messaging.
The survey also found that:
- Online games are now the second most frequent activity behind social networks – accounting for 10 percent of all US Internet time.
- Email –which was previously in second place –dropped from 11.5 percent of time to 8.3 percent.
- Videos/movies also experienced significant growth of 12%. In fact, according to Nielsen, June 2010 marked a major milestone for US online video, as the number of videos streamed passed the 10 billion mark. During the month of June, the average American consumer streaming online video spent 3 hours 15 minutes doing so. (Were the marketing campaigns during the World Cup responsible for this bump?)
- Email and instant messaging are still viable. Although both saw double-digit declines in share of time, email remains as the third heaviest activity online (8.3 percent share of time) while instant messaging comes in at fifth place, accounting for four percent of online time for Americans.
- Interestingly, the major portals also experienced a double digit decline in share. But, they remained as the fourth heaviest activity, accounting for 4.4 percent of US time online.
Although social media is still new to the marketing mix, clearly, the American public is becoming increasingly comfortable receiving –and exchanging –information across social networks. To me, this new Nielson data simply underscores why it’s so critical that companies add social media to their marketing mix and start engaging with consumers online.
It will be interesting to see how these stats change in the next few years. I predict email will continue to decline as video and social networks continue to rise. An interesting trend indicator — the teenagers in my life rarely use email — they consider it to be outdated technology. Instead, their online activity centers around social networks like Facebook, music sites, chat, and SMS — which is a whole other area for marketers to explore.
More details from the Nielsen research are available here.