Social Networks, Blogs Trump News Sites Online

October 4, 2011

The internet is trending toward social networking. Not surprisingly, women are the most active networkers.

According to a Nielsen report on social media use, Americans spend more than twice as much time on social networks and blogs as they do on any other category of website. And women are more likely to use social networks than men. Women account for 62 percent of the page views on Facebook, which is overwhelmingly the leading social network. And they watch 57 percent of the videos on social networks.

With social networks reaching nearly 80 percent of U.S. Internet users, marketers are spending more time than ever figuring out how to engage social networkers where they live online. And with good reason, according to Nielsen: 70 percent of adult social networkers shop online. Sixty percent of those who intensely research their purchases learned about a brand or a retailer through a social networking site. And half of this intensely engaged group has responded to a retailer’s offer posted on Facebook or Twitter.

The Nielsen report also shows that the Internet is much more a venue for entertainment and personal interaction than it is a source of news. Here’s how America’s time on the internet breaks down (numbers don’t add up to 100 percent as I’ve left out some smaller categories):

  • 22.5%: social networks and blogs
  • 9.8%: online games
  • 7.6%: email
  • 4.4% videos and movies
  • 4.0% search
  • 3.3%: instant messaging
  • 2.9%: classifieds/auctions
  • 2.6%: news and current events

Oh, and 35.1% on “other,” a category that includes porn.

The pathetically small “mindshare” of news on the web is probably a good bit larger than it appears. Social networking includes things like reading links to news articles that your friends have posted. People increasingly are learning about events in their community through social networking, where they once might have found them in their newspaper. And many of the most popular blogs feature reporting and commentary on news of all sorts. Still, it’s another indication of the challenge news organizations face in attracting the attention of distracted consumers.

When you can spend your time shopping, playing games and looking at porn, who’s going to bother keeping track of the legislature?

This is John Reinan’s weekly marketing column for MinnPost.com.