As the social media trend becomes a normal part of life for internet users the world over, it’s also becoming the most time-intensive activity on the web.
The TNS “Digital Life” survey of internet users around the world found in September 2010 that on average, surfers spent 4.6 hours a week on social sites, compared with 4.4 hours on email, the most common internet activity.
The TNS survey confirmed that not only is email the online activity with the highest overall penetration, but users also are still significantly more likely to send and receive email messages on a daily basis than they are to do any other activity. Nearly three-fourths of respondents checked their email every day, compared with less than half who headed to social sites with the same frequency.
The difference in penetration was less pronounced when users were asked about whether they “ever” participated in an activity, with 98% using email and 86% social, according to TNS.
The 2010 edition of UM’s (formerly Universal McCann) “Social Media Tracker” reported not on usage, but on social profile maintenance. Growth in the US and worldwide has continued, with more than 61% of frequent internet users globally having a profile on a social network.
And it’s little wonder they spend so much of their time on social sites. In addition to a wealth of social games and opportunities to share and generate content, social networks remain at heart a communications tool. US internet users told UM in 2010 they stay in contact with 53 people on average through social media, up from 31.2 last year. Worldwide the trend was similar: Users now keep in touch with 52 friends through social, compared with 38.8 in 2009.