That makes social media the top online category in the US, followed by online gaming (9.8%), email (7.6%), portals (4.5%), search (4.0%), and instant messaging (3.3%).
The "Other" online category, comprising 75 sub-categories—such as viewing adult content online, visiting retail websites, and reading about various subjects (e.g., sports and health) online—accounts for 35.1% of time spent online.
Below, additional findings from the State of the Media: The Social Media Report, Q3 2011, by Nielsen NM Incite.
Facebook Top Social Platform
Americans spend more time on Facebook than any other social media brand: In May 2011, online adults spent 53.5 billion minutes using Facebook, up 6% from 50.6 billion minutes a year earlier.
Time spent on blogs followed with 723.8 million minutes, followed by Tumblr (623.5 million), Twitter (565.2 million), and LinkedIn (325.7 million).
Facebook reached 70% of active online US adults in May; among them, 62% were women, according to Nielsen.
Mobile is Huge
Mobile technology is a big enabler of social networking use. Though most (97%) social network users visited via computer in May, more than one-third (37%) did so via mobile phone; fewer accessed social networks via gaming consoles (3%) and iPads (3%).
Older Users Driving Mobile Social Adoption
As of May 2011, the number people accessing social networks via mobile devices grew 62% year over year (YOY), but adoption among online adults age 55+ registered the largest increases, up 109% YOY.
Among adults age 35-54, the use of social networks via mobile grew 68% YOY in May, while adoption levels among those age 18-34 grew 61%.
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Social networking apps are the third most popular type of app used among US smartphone owners: 60% of smartphone have downloaded them. (Gaming apps are the most popular: 67% of smartphone users have downloaded them, followed by weather apps (65%).
Not surprisingly, Facebook is the most popular app across all operating systems, while Twitter is the fifth most popular app on BlackBerry and Windows Mobile operating systems.
Apps User Demographics
With the exception of LinkedIn, social networking apps users tend to be younger. Some 60% of Twitter apps users are age 25-44, while another 18% are age 18-24; only 6% are age 55+. Nearly one-half (49%) Facebook apps users are age 25-44 and 20% are age 18-24; some 10% are age 55+.
LinkedIn app users, meanwhile, skew older: 34% are age 45+ with 16% over age 55.
Accessing Social Networks via Mobile Highly Valued
Among the various activities people conduct using their smartphone, accessing social networks is the second most valued (30%)—less so than accessing GPS systems (56%), but more so than playing music (26%) or browsing the Web (26%).
More than one-third (37%) of smartphone owners use their devices for gaming, but far fewer (13%) value the functionality, whereas a fair number of people pay bills via their device (17%) and value that feature (20%).
Watching Video via Social Sites
More women view online video via social networks, but men spend more time doing so.
In May 2011, over 31 million people in the US watched video content on social networks and blogs, viewing nearly 157 million video streams. Although roughly 4,000 more women than men viewed video on those sites, men were the heaviest users, streaming more videos and spending 9% more time watching.
Tumblr on the Scene
Tumblr has grown to become the eighth largest site in the US Social Networks and Blogs category, reaching 11.8 million users in May 2011, up 183% from 4.2 million in the previous year.
Females (53.5%) make up the majority of Tumblr users, as do online adults age 18-34 (44.4%):
About the data: Findings from Nielsen's State of the Media: The Social Media Report, Q3 2011, are based on Nielsen NetView home and work data, collected in May 2011; and NM Incite's State of Social Media Survey, based on a representative sample of 1,865 adult (18+) social media users who were recruited from the Nielsen Online Panel, conducted March 31 to April 14, 2011.