Social Media's The Place To Go

According to a new Nielsen report, social media's growth connects people with just about everything they watch and buy. Whether it's a brand icon to connect with a company on LinkedIn, a news ticker promoting an anchor's Twitter handle or an advertisement asking a consumer to "Like" a product on Facebook, people are constantly being driven to social media. The latest Nielsen insights provide some answers on exactly how powerful this influence is on consumer behavior, both online and off.

In the U.S., social networks and blogs reach nearly 80% of active U.S. Internet users and represent the majority of Americans' time online. The value of the time consumers spend online and on social networks and blogs continues to grow, most visible through the influence on purchase decisions. For instance, 60% 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. 48% of these consumers responded to a retailer's offer posted on Facebook or Twitter.

Nielsen's "State of the Media: The Social Media Report - Q3 2011" presents a snapshot of the current social media landscape and audiences in the U.S. and other major markets:

Key Findings

  • Social networks and blogs continue to dominate Americans' time online, now accounting for nearly a quarter of total time spent on the Internet
  • Social media has grown rapidly - today nearly 4 in 5 active Internet users visit social networks and blogs
  • Americans spend more time on Facebook than they do on any other U.S. website
  • Close to 40% of social media users access social media content from their mobile phone
  • Social networking apps are the third most-used among U.S. smartphone owners
  • Internet users over the age of 55 are driving the growth of social networking through the Mobile Internet

Although a larger number of women view online video on social networks and blogs, men are the heaviest online video users overall streaming more videos and watching them longer

  • 70% of active online adult social networkers shop online, 12% more likely than the average adult Internet user
  • 53% of active adult social networkers follow a brand, while 32% follow a celebrity
  • Across a snapshot of 10 major global markets, social networks and blogs reach over three-quarters of active Internet users
  • Tumblr is an emerging player in social media, nearly tripling its audience from a year ago

Social Networks and Blog sites rule Americans' Internet time, accounting for 23% of time spent online, more than twice the amount of time spent on the number two category, Online Games. Time spent on the 75 "Other" online categories combined only accounts for 35% of Americans' total Internet time.

Females make up the majority of visitors to social networks and blogs, and people aged 18-34 have the highest concentration of visitors among all age groups. Americans aged 35-49 are also avid visitors: 4% more likely than average to visit social networks and blogs than they do any other site and 27% of these sites' audience.

The average visitor to social networks and blogs is female between 18 and 34. Her household income is less than $50,000 per year, and she has obtained a Bachelor's degree. She is likely Asian or Pacific and likely lives in New England

Social networking as a whole skews female, and so do nine of the top 10 U.S. social networks and blogs, but LinkedIn and Wikia are the only sites in the category where the percentage of men visiting the respective site exceeds the percentage of total active male Internet users (47%). Facebook continues to reign as the top U.S. social network with over 140 million visitors during May 2011, nearly 3-times the audience of the number two site, Blogger, reaching 70% of active U.S. Internet users.

As app usage in the U.S. continues to grow, but not at the expense of the Mobile Internet. Mobile Internet usage, the use of a browser on a mobile device, is alive and well with the unique number of Mobile Internet users in the U.S. up 47% over last year. The Mobile Internet audience to social networking sites is up 62% during the same period, as publishers continue to optimize their content across a new generation of connected devices.

During May 2011, over 31 million people in the U.S.watched video content on social networks and blogs, viewing nearly 157 million video streams. Although over 4,000 more women view video on these sites compared to men, men are the heaviest users, streaming more videos and spending 9% more time watching.

Top 10 U.S. Social Networks and Blogs

Unique Visitors (000)


Key Characteristic




Share of page views by female visitors on facebook




Household income of 41% of blogger's audience




Demographic more represented on twitter than any of the 9 other social networks

African Americans



Share of visitors to wordpress who have a bachelor's degree




Demographic that views twice as many pages on myspace than average




Internet users with a post graduate degree likely to visit Linkedin compared to average

3X as many



Demographic more represented on Tumblr than on any of the other 9 social networks

Female Teens


Six Apart Typepad

With a higher concentration of Six Apart visitors than from any of the other top 9 social networks

Pacific Region


Yahoo! Pulse

With the highest concentration of pulse visitors versus any other part of the country

New England Region



Age group more represented on Wikia than on any of the othe 9 social networks


Source: Nielsen, May 2011

Facebook has become synonymous not only with social media, but with Web use more generally, as Americans spend more time on Facebook than on any other site.

Top 10 U.S. Web Brands by Total Minutes (Billions; Home and Work; May 2011)


Billions of Minutes







Aol Media Network














Source: Nielsen, May 2011

Consumers frequently trust the recommendations of their peers, making social media an ideal platform for influencers to spread their ideas and purchase power. Research by NM Incite shows that 60% of social media users create reviews of products and services. In fact, consumer created reviews/ratings are the preferred source for information about product/service value, price and product quality, says the report. Offline, active adult social networkers are more likely than the average adult Internet user to be found at political rallies, professional sporting events and working out at the gym.

According to Nielsen and NM Incite, When Compared To The Average Adult Internet User, Active Adult Social Networkers Are...

  • 26% more likely to give their opinion on politics and current events
  • 33% more likely to give their opinion on TV programs
  • 19% more likely to attend a professional sporting event
  • 45% more likely to go on a date
  • 18% more likely to work out at a gym or health club
  • 75% more likely to be heavy spenders on music
  • 47% more likely to be heavy spenders on clothing, shoes and accessories
  • 53% of active social networkers follow a brand
  • 32% of active social networkers follow a celebrity

To sign in for the complete report and additional information from Nielsen, please go here.

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