More Time Spent Online Communicating Than Getting Entertained

As the number of people engaged in social media increases, people are more likely to be involved in communicating than seeking out entertaining activities online such as viewing Web sites for fun. That’s according to “Media Shifts to Social,” a Netpop Research report and follows a study on social networkers released in December.

Consider these trends identified in the study:

  • Of the 105 million Americans who participate in social media, seven million are considered “heavy” social media contributors — defined as people who participate in six or more activities and connect with at least 248 people on a one-to-many basis on a typical week. The most popular platforms include Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter, Digg, and Yelp.
  • Time spent communicating online went from 27 percent of time online in 2006 to 32 percent in 2008. Communication, in the survey, includes activities such as e-mail, instant messaging, posting to blogs, and photo sharing. “We’re really looking to create personal relationships and communicating with people,” said Josh Crandall, president of Netpop.
  • Time devoted to entertaining activities online went from 49 percent of the time spent online in 2006 to 20 percent two years later. Entertainment was defined as participating in online games, accessing videos, and accessing Web sites for fun.
  • 54 percent of micro-bloggers post content or “tweet” daily.

And social media’s heightened popularity means change for how marketers approach their jobs. “Marketing, customer service and consumer intelligence departments need to converge to understand and address the impact of social media,” suggests the Media-Screen study.

“We’re at a turning point; social media has been emerging for a number of years now,” Crandall said. “There’s a lot of overlap and these areas of influence are large, it’s a large group of people who can affect how marketing campaigns are perceived in the marketplace.”

One example offered by Crandall includes how Facebook reacted to protests over a change in the social network’s terms of service. Last month, Facebook updated its terms to state it had the right to use content, such as photos, posted on the site after a person deletes her profile. After the Faceboook community complained, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly said the social network would seek out community comments before making major policy changes.

Crandall also pointed to the backlash from Motrin Moms upset over a Motrin ad’s reference to moms who “wear” their babies as a fashion statement, and the Skittles ad that takes visitors to a Twitter feed for Skittles.

The findings are based on an online survey of 4,384 U.S.-based broadband users over the age 13. The study was fielded between September and October 2008 using a proprietary sampling methodology that takes into account the respondents represents the Internet population.

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