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The latest Nielsen report’s “Global Faces and Networked Places” highlights social media as the global consumer phenomenon of 2008: two-thirds of the world’s internet population now visit a social network or a blogging site and social media accounts for 10% of the overall internet time. So much so that social media has now overtaken personal emails as the 4th more popular activity online.
In December 2008, out of every 11 minutes spent online globally, 1 minute was spent within social media (1 minute out of 6 in the UK!). And we’re not just talking about students sharing photos of their parties on Facebook. As social media is becoming more mainstream, the average age of users is also shifting: one third of the Facebook audience is now within the 35-49 years old bracket and one-fourth is over 40. It’s also nice to hear that although Germany arrived quite late to the social media party, they’re now catching up with their European counterparts – good timing for our German website!
As the time spent interacting in social media is growing, the share of time held by other sectors is diminishing and so is the effectiveness of traditional online advertising.
The report rightfully points out that:
Advertising must be a conversation rather than a push-model. The point that social networks members are co-creators of content [...] means advertising should be about participating in a relevant conversation with consumers rather than simply pushing ads on them. After all it is social media. Advertising shouldn’t be about interrupting or invading the social network, it should be part of this conversation.