How do you spend your time online?

By Matter

A new report from Nielsen reveals Americans are spending more and more time on social networks. I guess that’s not surprising. But would you believe social networking now accounts for more than twice the amount of time spent online compared to any other activity? According to the report, social networking represents 22.7 percent of the time Americans spend online (from computers, as opposed to mobile devices)– that’s a 43 percent surge from last year. Online gaming (10.2 percent) and email (8.3 percent) fall in second and third place. You can check out some extended findings and useful comparisons, tables and graphs on Nielsen’s blog.

Perhaps it’s fitting I first learned about this newly released research during one of my handful of social media perusals throughout the day. Case and point? Well, maybe not. I don’t track my time online to the minute, but I honestly don’t think the time I spend on social media surpasses the time I spend on email. Not yet at least. I do, however, find myself spending more and more time on Facebook and Twitter, both for personal and professional reasons. For example, I often find Twitter to be the most useful tool for keeping up to speed on what my top media targets are writing about and to interact with them in a casual, non-intrusive way.

Taking into consideration Nielsen’s findings (and that I sometimes notice the reported trends in my own behavior), what does the uptick in online time spent on social media sites mean for our clients? Is it realistic to think PR professionals should be connecting with reporters more often on Twitter? Should we be making sure your clients’ messages are heard loud and clear on Facebook? Or maybe we should make like Old Spice and better utilize online video as a PR tool. After all, as Big Mouth Media pointed out, U.S. Internet users streamed an average of 3.25 hours of online content in June. What do you think?

Numbers and statistics, of course, can sometimes be interpreted in different ways and should not be solely relied on. Rather, PR professionals can use research findings, like this recent set from Nielsen, to help make well-informed, guided decisions when it comes to our own use of social media and steering our clients in the social media direction that makes the most sense for their businesses.