A recent Nielsen study found that global consumption of social media increased 82 percent from Dec. 2008 to Dec. 2009 in the 10 countries surveyed, with users spending an average of 5.5 hours on their sites of choice per month!

US and Australian addicts are among the heaviest users of all, spending 6 hours and 9 minutes, and nearly 7 hours, respectively, on socnets per month. The biggest winners in social media are Twitter (its userbase grew 200 percent in 2009), and Facebook (user base up 368 percent).

That means that as of December 2009, Twitter hosted 18.1 million active members in the countries studied. And Facebook? 206.9 million unique visits in December—a whopping 67-percent share of all social-media users in those countries. Whew.

To succeed today on these platforms, marketers need to understand just how these sites are being used. Here's a quick summary:

  • Twitter Users Share. A MarketingProfs report released last year found that people favor Twitter for sharing cool things and making discoveries. Those things can be anything from a cool site to useful information to the latest crazy video.
  • Facebook Fans Touch. Facebook fans mostly use it to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues, the report found. They keep others updated on what's new with them, and what they like. (Hence the popularity of Fan Pages or sponsored gifts, both of which show what brands users love. Good stuff.)

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