Are people spending too much time online? Statistics from The Nielsen Company about social networking use and new numbers from ComScore on the explosion in Web searches point to an explosion in Web use toward the end of 2009, up significantly from one year ago.
Nielsen found that consumers worldwide spent an average of more than 5.5 hours on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter in December 2009. This is a staggering 82 percent increase from December 2008 when users were spending an average of just over 3 hours on social networking sites.
Australian users logged an average of almost 7 hours of social networking time in December, followed by users in the United States, United Kingdom and Italy, who logged 6 hours for the month. With more than 350 million users worldwide, of the social networks Facebook was the biggest recipient of user eyeballs in December.
The site, which took over the social network crown from MySpace in 2009, boasted 206.9 million unique visitors, with more than 67 percent of global social media users coming to the site during the month.
Globally, users are spending an average of nearly 6 hours per month on the site, Nielsen said. ComScore has some impressive figures (doubling audience, unique visitors, page views, time spent) for U.S. Facebook growth here.
Twitter remained the fastest-growing social site, soaring from 2.7 million unique visitors in December 2008 to 18.1 million in December 2009, a growth of 579 percent, the research company noted.
Social site use (or abuse, depending on who you ask) also ratcheted up in the United States in December, with minutes of use rising 210 percent from December 2008 and the average time per person increasing 143 percent year over year.
"Year-over-year growth in average time spent by U.S. users, for both Facebook and Twitter.com, outpaced the overall growth for the category, increasing 200 percent and 368 percent, respectively," Nielsen reported.
Don't expect growth for these sites to slow too much. Both Facebook and Twitter have big plans to boost their technological assets in 2010, which could certainly lure more users to the site. Facebook just broke ground for a new data center, while Twitter is ramping up geolocation and monetization efforts.
The paths Facebook and Twitter are on recall that of Google. Google first attracted millions of searchers, then expanded its Web services purview by offering new Web applications to keep users coming back and to tempt new ones.
Speaking of search, Google and millions of users, ComScore said worldwide search soared in December 2009, up by more than 46 percent from December 2008. Web users around the world conducted more than 131 billion searches.
Google was the search engine of choice for nearly 67 percent of these, logging 87.8 billion searches in December 2009.
The company intends to expand its search dominance in 2010 by focusing on the mobile, social and location-based opportunities the Web has to offer. This is interesting because Facebook and Twitter are also focusing on the same thing. Will search and social networking collide?
If the social networking stats from Nielsen and the search stats from ComScore are any indication, there is plenty of pie for everyone.