Mobile Is Driving Growth in Social Media Consumption

December 4, 2012

This article is included in these additional categories:

African-American | Boomers & Older | Digital | Hispanic | Men | Mobile Phone | Social Media | Women | Youth & Gen X

As marketers zero in on mobile and social media for the coming year, it turns out that one may be benefiting the other, according to a new report from Nielsen. In July 2012, Americans spent 32.7 billion more minutes accessing social media sites than in July 2011. More than half of that consumption growth (18.9 billion minutes) was derived from additional time spent visiting social media sites via the mobile web or mobile applications, as consumers devoted 30% of their mobile time to social networks. That compares with 20% of PC time spent with social networking – with an astounding 17% of total PC time spent on Facebook.

40% of SocNet Consumption Now From Mobile

Details from Nielsen’s “The Social Media Report 2012” reveal that 34% of social media time spent in July 2012 was on mobile apps, as consumers grew their social app consumption by 76%, from a total of 23.2 billion minutes to 40.8 billion.

Time spent accessing social networks via mobile apps dwarfed time spent visiting those sites via the mobile web. Consumers spent just 5% of their social media time on the mobile web, for a total of 5.7 billion minutes. While that was up about 30% from July 2011, the mobile web audience size almost doubled over that period (data from comScore shows that 4 in 10 mobile subscribers now access social networks from their devices), meaning that those users became less engaged over time.

The declining engagement over the mobile web contrasts with Nielsen’s findings regarding engagement via PCs. In fact, while social media’s PC audience size actually decreased by 5%, time spent via PCs jumped by 24%, indicating a deeper engagement on the part of these users.

Per-Person Engagement Higher on Mobiles Than PCs

Interestingly, although PC users’ engagement with social media sites appears to be rising, the Nielsen data demonstrates that on a per-person basis, those accessing via mobile web or mobile app actually spent more time on their preferred social networks than those accessing via a PC.

During July 2012, men who accessed social media sites through the mobile web or a mobile app spent about half-an-hour more than men who accessed those sites via a PC (6 hours and 44 minutes vs. 6 hours and 13 minutes). For women, who spent on average 3 hours more per-person visiting via mobile, the gap was even greater. That is, women who accessed social media sites via the mobile web or an app spent 9 hours and 43 minutes on average in July 2012, compared to 8 hours and 37 minutes for female PC visitors.

While the trend towards greater engagement via mobile was consistent across genders, that was not the case when analyzing age demographics and race/ethnicities. 18-24-year-olds visiting via PC, for example, were more engaged than their counterparts visiting via mobile, as were consumers aged 45 and older. Only those aged 25-34 and 35-44 showed higher engagement via mobile than via PC, with the biggest gap (of about 2 hours per month) among 25-34-year-olds.

When it comes to race or ethnicity, whites, African-Americans, and Hispanics all saw higher engagement via mobiles than PCs, with Asians the only group spending more time per-person via PCs. Hispanics who accessed social media sites via the mobile web or an app spent an average of 11 hours and 13 minutes doing so, almost 4 hours more than their PC-using counterparts. They also spent almost 3 hours more on average per-person accessing social networks via mobile than any other race or ethnicity.

Other Findings:

  • Facebook easily had the largest PC audience in July 2012, though that audience size represented a 4% decrease from July 2011. Blogger (-3%) and Twttier (+13%) were next in audience size. Pinterest showed the most rapid year-over-year growth in audience size, up more than 1,000% to the number 6 ranking, ahead of Google+.
  • Facebook had the largest mobile app audience (+88%), followed by Twitter (+134%) and Foursquare (+118%). Facebook also led in mobile web audience size (+85%), ahead of Twitter (+140%) and Blogger (+100%). Pinterest saw year-over-year mobile web audience growth of an astounding 4,225%, taking the 4th spot.
  • Although Pinterest ranked behind Google+ in terms of mobile app audience size, it ranked ahead of it in total minutes. However, while Pinterest ranked 4th in mobile web audience size, it didn’t crack the top 5 in total consumption.
  • Pinterest had the 4th-highest total minutes spent via PC, despite coming in 6th in audience size.

About the Data: The Nielsen data is derived from Nielsen NetView (July 2012) and Nielsen Smartphone Analytics (July 2012).

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