Nielson: Social Networking Now More Popular Than Email

Do you find yourself spending more and more time on social networking sites?  I sure do.  In fact, social networking is now a more popular online activity than email, according to a new report by market research firm Nielsen Online (see report “Global Faces and Networked Places"). 

One trend that caught my eye was that there is huge growth in the use of social networking sites by those over the age of 35.  So if you think these sites are just for teenagers, you are dead wrong.  The people using these sites are your customers, business partners, and next-door neighbors.  For those of you who have not yet registered on one of these sites, the train has left the station…better get on.

Some key findings from the report include:

  • On average one of every 11 minutes spent online around the world is devoted to social networking and blogging sites. 
  • Two-thirds of the world’s Internet population now regularly visit social networking or blogging sites and these visits account for almost 10% of all Internet time
  • Growth in social networking was three times as fast as the pace of general online growth
  • The top five most popular sites are:
    1. Facebook (108.3 million users)….the average user spends 3 hours and 10 minutes online every month.
    2. MySpace (81 million users)
    3. Classmates Online (19.7 million users),
    4. Orkut (17.5 million users)….70 per cent of online Brazilians are using the Google-owned service.
    5. Linkedin (15 million users). 
  • 2008 time spent at Social Networking sites accounted for one in every 15 online minutes – now it accounts for one in every 11.
    • In Brazil the average is one of every four minutes and in UK it’s one in every six minutes.
  • Social networking isn't only for teenagers as much of the growth is coming from the middle-aged (see graph to the right).  
    • The 35 – 49 year old category on Facebook rose by 24.1 million people last year.
    • Facebook added almost twice as many 50-64 year old visitors (+13.6 million) than it has added under 18 year old visitors (+7.3 million).

After reading these survey results, you really get the feeling that the way people connect, communicate, and collaborate over the Internet is changing dramatically.   Those of us in the workforce will be using these networks to form new relationships with people outside the firewall.  Enterprises should have a strategy in place as to how they are leveraging these networks in all areas of their business.  Social networking will have a significant and disruptive impact on all areas of business communications.

For more information, check out the Nielsen report “Global Faces and Networked Places".  The survey covered data captured from December 2007 through December 2008.