Consumers continue to spend more time on social networks than on any other category of Websites—roughly 20 percent of their total time online via PC, and 30 percent of total time online via mobile—according to Nielsen and NM Incite's latest Social Media Report.
Facebook remains the most-visited social network in the U.S. through PCs (152.2 million visitors), mobile apps (78.4 million users) and mobile Web (74.3 million visitors), and is multiple times the size of the next-largest social site across each platform. The site is also the top U.S. Web brand in terms of time spent, as some 17 percent of time spent online through personal computers is on Facebook, according to the study.
The report found total time spent on social media in the U.S. across PCs and mobile devices increased 37 percent to 121 billion minutes in July 2012, compared with 88 billion in July 2011. The increase was helped by the recent proliferation of mobile devices and connectivity, the report said.
More people are using smartphones and tablets to access social media sites, with time spent on mobile apps and the mobile Web, accounting for 63 percent of the year-over-year growth in overall time spent using social media. Slightly less than half (46 percent) of social media users say they use their smartphones to access social media, while 16 percent say they connect to social media using a tablet.
"Social media and social networking are no longer in their infancy. Social media continues to grow rapidly, offering global consumers new and meaningful ways to engage with the people, events and brands that matter to them," the report noted. "While the computer remains as the predominant device for social media access, consumers' time spent with social media on mobile apps and the mobile Web has increased 63 percent in 2012, compared to the same period last year."
While Facebook and Twitter continue to be among the most popular social networks, Pinterest emerged as one of the breakout sites in social media for 2012, boasting the largest year-over-year increase in both unique audience and time spent of any social network across PC, mobile Web and apps.
The report also indicated consumer attitudes toward advertising on social media are still evolving. Though roughly one-third of social media users find ads on social networking sites more annoying than other types of Internet advertisements, research suggests that there are opportunities for marketers to engage with consumers through social media.
More than a quarter of social media users say they are more likely to pay attention to an ad shared by one of their social connections, and more than a quarter of consumers said they were fine with seeing ads on social networking sites tailored to them based on their profile information.
Social media is also transforming consumer views on customer service, with nearly half of U.S. consumers reaching out directly to brands and service providers to voice their satisfaction or complaints, or simply to ask questions. The report found one in three social media users prefer to use social media rather than the phone for customer service issues.