Facebook Dominates our Online Existence

by Matt Klassen on September 14, 2011

Facebook dominates our online existence. To be fair, it’s a technological truism so obvious that it may not be worth stating, as we’ve all long known that Facebook is a great time waster, with the social networking site dominating much of people’s Internet habits both at home and at the office. Now, however, the good people at Nielsen—the influential audience statistics group—have come up with some hard numbers about just how much of our time Facebook gobbles up.

No longer just a leader among social networks, the stats firm reported that in May alone Americans spent a whopping 53.5 billion minutes on Facebook, a number that is even more impressive when you realize that its three times higher than the number two spot occupied by Yahoo at 17.1 billion minutes, proving that, “Facebook has become synonymous not only with social media, but with Web use more generally.”

But even with Facebook controlling much of our digital existence, the Nielsen report had several other things to say about our online habits, the social networking demographic, our digital device preferences, and the rising competition for our online attention. 

I will say at the outset that the first strange thing about this Nielsen report is the fact that the stats firm felt it necessary to lump social networking and blogging into the same category, a category, as it turns out, that dominates 23 percent of our time online. There seems to me to be a strange disconnect here, as I simply can’t understand why you wouldn’t separate these two distinct categories, evidence perhaps that the good people at Nielsen really don’t understand the habits of the American public as well as they say they do.

Not only does it dominate the average American’s time online, the popularity of social networking is such that 4 out of 5 people frequent sites like Facebook. But have you ever wondered what demographic visits social networks and blogs the most? Its here that I found the results the most intriguing, as women aged 18-34 (no surprise there) who are highly educated and have a lower income (bachelor degree, family income under 50k) are statistically the most active social networkers.

While the report doesn’t delve into the details behind the numbers, is there a particular reason that this unique demographic of women tops the list of social network and blog visitors?

Although I’m no sociologist, having spent years extracting such conclusions from raw statistical data, it doesn’t seem like a long shot to say that Facebook is, in fact, popular among mothers; women who, after completing their education and establishing themselves in the workforce, have taken time off to raise children.

To wit, I need only to look at my wife to find the prototypical example of this, a woman who has several advanced degrees who finds herself at home with two young children, forced (for lack of a better word) to connect with friends and other mothers through social networking and blogs.

This aside, the report gave a few more tantalizing tidbits of information regarding the future of social networking and our digital device preferences. The report indicated that while mobile social networking is on the rise, users still use PCs well over 90 percent of the time, and that while the majority of users still utilized Facebook, sites like Tumblr, who has “tripled the size of its U.S. audience over the past year to become No. 8 on the list of top blogs and social networks.”

In the end, much like television companies, I have no doubt that this information will be put to good use, meaning that social networkers can look forward to increasingly focused—and annoying—advertising, especially those highly educated lower income women.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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