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BizReport : Social Marketing : October 12, 2009

Nielsen: Consumers using social to navigate

When it comes to navigating the Internet, consumers aren't only relying on search engines, direct navigation or links from email. According to a recent report from Nielsen Online, social consumers are increasingly using their social networks to navigate the Web, giving publishers and advertisers something to think about.

by Kristina Knight

Researchers found that almost 20% of social consumers are using social networks as their 'core navigation' tool. Rather than utilizing search engines or content hubs such as Microsoft or Yahoo, these consumers are looking for content within social networks and clicking from there. 20% may not seem like a huge number to many publishers and advertisers, until they look at the number from a different angle.

Nielsen also reports that Twitter usage increased by more than 950% - no that is not a typo, that is nine-hundred-fifty percent (YoY) - in August 2009. And Twitter isn't the only social network showing huge growth numbers. Metrics firm Hitwise finds that overall visits to social networks has ">increased by more than 60% with visits from the over-55 crowd increasing their social networking time by 77%.

"At the root of the changing nature of content discovery is the sheer amount of information that is available on the Web. If you want to learn more about the latest smartphone released into the market, your favorite search engine is sure to provide you with hundreds, if not thousands, of articles about the device," writes Jon Gibs, Vice President of Media Analytics, Neilsen Online. "But with the increasing number of resources available, it's difficult to know what you should believe or take at face value. Socializers - those who spend 10 percent or more of their online time on social media - ...[trust] what their friends have to say and social media acts as an information filtration tool. This is key because Socializers gravitate towards and believe what is shared with friends and family. If your friend creates or links to the content, then you are more likely to believe it and like it. And this thought plays out in the data."

Over the past year, Hitwise researchers have found that visits to Facebook, the new number one social network, have increased by 194% and visits to network increased by nearly 50%. Although visitors to both MySpace, the grandfather of social networks, and MyYearbook showed large decreases, the number of social networks showing strong growth is an indicator that both content providers and advertisers need to take social networks into account.

Tags: content delivery, content sharing, Facebook, Hitwise, Nielsen Online, social marketing, social media, social networks, Twitter

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