If Size Matters, Social Media is Huge in the U.S.

About 127 million Americans, or three-quarters of the population, use social media, according to Nielsen Online. In a survey of 1,700 Internet users, researchers found that 73% engage in social media at least once a week. Engagement was defined as reading a blog, visiting a social network, or reading/commenting on a message board.

The Nielsen study, commissioned by women-focused blog network BlogHer and NBCU’s iVillage, found that Facebook is becoming a major attraction for a majority of the population, rivaling the reach of traditional media channels. Of the online population, 47% visit Facebook daily, according to Nielsen, nearly rivaling the 55% that watch TV. Facebook daily use easily beats out other traditional media like radio (37%) and newspapers (22%).

Social gaming is a daily habit for a huge number of people. According to Nielsen’s survey, 32.7 million people play social games daily. That’s equivalent to newspaper readership and more than double the readership of magazines in the sample. Social games are polarizing, however, as over 50% said they never play them.

For all its buzz, the study found Twitter is still a niche activity for all but a small segment of the online population. Twitter boasts 105 million registered users — but according to Nielsen, just 11.4 million (6%) use it daily.

BlogHer and iVillage commissioned the research to determine the role of social media in the lives of women versus the general population. It found little differences between the sexes when it comes to social media adoption, with women slightly more likely to tweet and blog while men watch more videos.

Blog reading remains a niche activity for online users, with just 11% saying they read them daily — it trailed message board readers (17%). BlogHer’s audience, of course, is more inclined to visiting blogs as a habit, with 77% reading them daily and 96% weekly. The BlogHer audience sample also identified blogs as trailing only search among ad-supported media in purchasing decisions.

BlogHer COO Elisa Camahort said the popularity of social networking is not stealing time and attention from blogs. “It’s like any media progress we’ve had,” she said. “Nothing is killing the other media source. Blogs are still where substantive conversations are happening. It’s not on Facebook.”

Download the study results (PDF).

(Via Adweek)

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