Social Media Surpasses Search, Facebook Leads

Social media accounts for one out of every four minutes that U.S. users spend online, four out of five people in the United States who access social media sites, and three out of four Internet users globally, according to a report released Monday.

Nielsen's "State of the Media: The Social Media Report," compiled in May 2011, looks at the role social media plays in consumers' lives. Americans spent 53.5 billion minutes on Facebook's site in May from computers at home and work, up 6% compared with the previous year. Blogger came in at No. 2 with 723 million minutes; Tumblr, 623 million; Twitter, 565 million and LinkedIn, 325 million.

Web properties heavily focused on search appear to trail considerably when it comes to minutes spent on the site. Yahoo, Google, AOL, MSN and YouTube fell well behind with 17.2 million minutes, 12.5 million, 11.4 million, 9.5 million, and 9.1 million, respectively.

Social needs to integrate strategies from HR to marketing to sourcing, said Radha Subramanyam, Nielsen's senior vice president of media and advertising insights and analytics. "Social is the world's biggest focus group," she said.



Keeping social in a silo continues to become the biggest mistake company execs make, Subramanyam said. "It's dangerous when social remains its own department in the company because it tends to get buried," she said, suggesting integrating social into other media such as search.

Since U.S. Internet users spend more time on Facebook compared with any other Web brand, the question is whether Google will integrate Google+ more closely with search. Subramanyam called Google's ability to sign 10 million people on Google+ in 10 weeks "impressive," and said other companies have built a strong foundation as well.

Tumblr has grown to become the eighth-largest U.S. site, jumping 183% to 11,870 in the past year. Blogs, groups and other sites remaining in the first generation of social media continue to do well, she said. The site became a popular conversation topic, generating an average of 21,280 messages and links per day to the site during May 2011.

About 60% of social media users create reviews for products and services to help others make choices. The medium has become fundamental in helping people make choices, which could explain Google's recent acquisition of Zagat -- which Subramanyam calls one of the "oldest forms of user-generated media" that moved to the mobile phone to support local businesses.

About 40% of consumers now use social services on mobile phones, but as Subramanyam points out, these social features are only second to GPS use on mobile. "It highlights that social has become a functional part of life," she said.

Social has begun to attract consumers who did not grow up with mobile services. More than twice as many people age 55+ now visit social networking sites on their mobile phone, compared with last year.

The report also analyzes how social media influences offline activities. When compared with the average adult Internet user, those who use social networks are 75% more likely to spend heavily on digital music; 45% more likely to go on a date; 47% more likely to spend heavily on clothing, shoes and accessories; 33% more likely to give their opinion on TV programming; 26% more likely to give their opinion on politics and current events; 19% more likely to attend sports events; and 18% more likely to work out at a health club.

2 comments about "Social Media Surpasses Search, Facebook Leads".
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  1. Rachel Doherty, September 12, 2011 at 8:16 p.m.

    As much as I can't stand its dominance, marketers have to admit that Facebook is the leader here. And now I feel like everything has to have an app on FB. Also, how to integrate video chat into that app? Our viewers want to network and communicate with each other. All those teenagers playing on that Rounds video chat app on Facebook ( if you don't know it). I mean, we're talking millions of kids who want to be connected...

  2. Durant Imboden from, September 13, 2011 at 10:32 a.m.

    It stands to reason that users spend more time on social-networking sites than on search sites, because a search site's mission is to help users move as quickly as possible to OTHER sites. In any case, time on site is less important than user motivation. Searchers are more likely to be researching what to buy and where to spend their money than social networkers are. That's why Google's ad revenues make Facebook's ad revenues look like pocket change.

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