Social Networks and Blogs Provide Excellent Research Platform

According to NMIncites, social networks and blogs In the U.S 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. 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.

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, says the report. Nielsen’s State of the Media: The Social Media Report presents a snapshot of the current social media landscape and audiences in the U.S. and other major markets.

Year Over Year Mobile Internet Audience Growth to Social Networking Sites


% of Growth Y-O-Y

Age Group










   Mixed racial


   Black/African American


   Native American/Alaskan native


   Hispanic origin




   Asian/Pacific islander




Source: Neilsen, 2011

Key findings from the study, says Nielsen:

  • Social networks and blogs continue to dominate Americans’ time online, now accounting for nearly a quarter of total time spent on the Internet
  • 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

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 #2 category, Online Games. To further put this into context, time spent on the 75 “Other” online categories combined, only accounts for 35% of Americans’ total Internet time.

Top 5 US Social Networking Sites via Mobile Internet (Unique Audience x000)


Audience (2011; x000)









Source: Nielsen, 2011

Paralled by a concurrent report, Joan Lewis, P&G’s Global Consumer and Market Knowledge Officer, noted that “... marketing leaders have been increasingly vocal in articulating a compelling vision for social media’s role in marketing research...  to cast the social media net wide beyond simple brand monitoring to derive deep, unexpected consumer insights about unmet needs and alternate uses for products... “

Ms. Lewis suggests six reasons why there is so much excitement about applying social media to marketing research:

  • The infinite panel: social media provides a lens into the beliefs, needs, desires and behaviors of tens of millions of people across all consumer segments. Unlike panels or forums, there is no limitation on size
  • The infinite survey: social media is making it possible for marketers to know just about everything on the minds of their consumer segments. There is no limitation of knowledge imposed by a fixed number of pre-determined survey questions
  • Real-time: markets can identify, understand, track and act on emerging consumer trends in real-time, in contrast with the lengthy cycle of creating and conducting traditional market research surveys
  • Revealing “hidden” insights: social media enables marketers to more easily uncover hidden preferences, unmet needs and unintended use-cases, enabling marketers to focus on product enhancements. Unintended use-cases can be a marketing goldmine
  • In their words: customer satisfaction and product quality can be articulated and measured through social media research in the language of the customer. For example, a car company might define and measure quality from an engineering standpoint, while consumers might speak of quality across social media in terms of fit and finish, interior materials, comfortable seats or a quiet cabin... better competitive differentiation
  • More for Less: Learning about consumers through traditional marketing research is expensive. It is possible to derive deep, meaningful, real-time insights across numerous consumer segments and topics far more cost-effectively through social media research

To review PDF format of the study, please visit NMIncite here.


1 comment about "Social Networks and Blogs Provide Excellent Research Platform".
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  1. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, July 10, 2012 at 11:49 a.m.

    It's a bit scary that this is a pure sell job on social media research. It should mention the two critical problems in social media search: Only a limited (5%?) portion of your market is socially active enough to even reach the radar. And, it is based on responses written by the consumer. This restricts valid feedback to that limited set of people who express complicated things well in writing. And it means that mis-interpretation of the consumers writing is highly likey. (Remember how often even your well written colleagues write emails that are misinterpreted - then multiply that by 1000).

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