A study by The Nielsen Company revealed last week that the time spent on social network and blogging sites accounted for 17% of total time spent on the Internet in August 2009. This figure is three times what people were spending on such sites a year ago.
"This growth suggests a wholesale change in the way the Internet is used," said Jon Gibs, vice president of media and agency insights, in the online division. The rate at which people are uploading photos, updating statuses, and sharing links reveals the "desire of online consumers to connect, communicate and share" and "is increasingly driving the medium's growth," says Gibs.
Whilst the study was aimed at advertisers- publishers could also find the results useful. In the same way that advertisers use sites such as Facebook to gather information on consumers, decide where to spend their advertising dollars, and "engage in an ongoing dialogue with their target market," publishers can find out what stories are generating interest and what people want to hear more on; see what links people are sharing and even find sources. The fact that Nielsen's study shows that people are spending a good proportion of their time on social networking websites also confirms that the exposure linked articles receive on these websites is substantial.