A recent Nielsen study indicates that Americans spend nearly a quarter of their Internet time on social networking sites. Social media has surpassed email in terms of online time and it’s just early days of social networking. Social media already accounts for a whopping 23 per cent of America’s online time versus a paltry 8.3 per cent on email.
Facebook dominates the social networking scene with nearly 85 per cent share of social networking pie. It is followed by MySpace and Twitter manages a distant third slot with just 1 per cent share.
With a lion’s share of online time, Facebook is America’s top online addiction. Be it updating their status messages, sending messages to others, watching videos or just lazing around – Americans simply love Facebook, despite grave concerns over its privacy aspects.
I’m somewhat surprised that Twitter ranks below Myspace in the race for online time on social networks. One of the major reasons for the phenomenal popularity of Myspace is its huge video library. On the other hand, Twitter is a no-multimedia, no videos, plain text service. However, when it comes to businesses and online marketing, I have no doubts that Twitter is far more effective than Myspace.
Online gaming is big
The study also outlines that online gaming is getting bigger and bigger in America. It is already the second most popular online activity with nearly 10 per cent share, ahead of email. EA and Blizzard Entertainment hold the top spots in online gaming segment with 16.7 per cent and 11.5 per cent respectively. They are followed by Mafia Wars and Zynga game network. The time share of social media appears all the more impressive if you consider the fact that many online games are indeed played on social networks such as Facebook.
Is Email dead?
No, it isn’t and I don’t see it dying down in the distant future either. The study confirms that email is still the most popular online activity on smartphones with 41.6 per cent of time spent. Though mobile social networking now boasts of nearly 27.5 per cent of time spent, it only manages the third spot as the most popular online activity on mobile phones.
While desktop email is showing a declining curve, the use of mobile email is on the rise. It’s a healthy sign for the mobile internet industry.
What about Instant Messaging?
Since many social media networks offer built-in instant messaging capabilities, it is understandable that the use of dedicated IM tools is on the decline. I prefer to have a quick chat with my friends in Facebook rather than ping them on their Yahoo Messenger or Windows Live accounts.
It’s fair to say that the age of Web 2.0 and Rich Internet Applications (RIA) has well and truly arrived. Users are willing to settle for nothing else apart from an enriching experience on the web. Videos and movies are ranked high amongst the most heavily-used sectors online.
The recent study from Nielsen is a testimony of social media’s increasing popularity. There is no doubt that social media is here to stay and it’s now beginning to rewrite the rules of the web for good.