Nielsen: U.S. Social Media Usage Up 37%

Mobile users now spending 30% of their online time on social media sites

In new research that once again highlights the importance of social media for TV players seeking to promote their programming and launch second screen apps, Nielsen is reporting that social media usage and users have seen significant growth over the last year, with the total amount of time spent on social media sites growing 37% to 121 billion minutes in July of 2012 compared to 88 billion minutes by Americans in July of 2011.

The new report "The State of Media: The State of Social Media" from Nielsen also found that unique social networking users increased to 171.8 million in July of 2012 from 163.6 million a year earlier and that consumers spend more time on social media sites than any other type of sites.

PC users spent about 20% of their online time at social media sites and mobile users spent 30% of their online time at social networks in July of 2012, Nielsen is reporting.

Second screen usage of a smart phone or tablet is also growing, the report noted and a significant portion of that usage is related to TV viewing, with 35% of tablet owners and 23% of smart phone owners looking up information related to the TV program they were watching.

About 26% of tablet owners and 15% of smart phone owners also looking up product information for an ad seen on TV and 24% of tablet owners and 12% of smart phone users looked up coupons or deals related to TV ads.

Overall, about 41% of tablet owners and 38% of smart phone owners uses those devices at least once a day while watching TV.

During June of 2012 about 33% of active twitter users were tweeting about TV, up from 26% in January of 2012.

While computers remain by far the most popular way to access social media sites, with 94% of the respondents reporting accessing a social media site via a computer, the survey showed significant increases in mobile social media usage, with 46% reporting they accessed social media networks via a mobile device, up from 37% in 2011 and on tablets, growing from 3% in 2011 to 16% in 2012.