How are people spending their time online these days? Could people be posting new Facebook statuses more than often than sending email? Seems pretty unbelievable, right? Well, according to a Nielsen report, Americans spend about six hours per month on social networking sites and blogs. That's 16% more time than last year. Facebook is the top social networking tool of choice; it has over half a billion users worldwide and of all American social networking use it makes up 85%. MySpace came in at 5% and Twitter at just 1%.
So, email must be a close second, right? Not so much. Games actually beat out email as the second most popular thing people do when they're online. This includes games such as FarmVille, which is played on Facebook. However, the Nielsen report didn't specify whether or not the Facebook-oriented games had an effect on the number of hours people spend on Facebook.
Email did come in at number three. It was followed by watching videos on websites such as YouTube and Netflix - something else that's on the rise. Instant messaging, which was once very popular, came in at number five. The research also suggests people are doing more emailing and instant messaging on their mobile devices these days instead of their personal computers. Also, Facebook offers ways to chat or send private messages, so people are still communicating in the same way, they're just not doing it with the same tools.
Dave Martin, the Vice President of Primary Research at Nielsen, admitted that even though the numbers are changing, the fundamentals are the same. "We are going online to communicate, get information, do research, stay abreast of the news and be entertained. We’re doing the same things we have always been doing online. The way we are getting to that content is shifting. It has become word-of-mouth. The power and recommendation platform of social networks like Facebook and Twitter are now driving that personalization of content consumption. Social networking is not just about connecting people. It’s a new way to distribute all types of content."