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Social Usage Involves More Platforms, More Often

Growing interest in more in-person connectedness

July 2, 2013

Among digitally connected consumers, social media usage is occupying an increasing amount of time spent connecting with others. The Buntin Group, an ad agency, and Survey Sampling International, on behalf of manufacturer Chinet, surveyed US web users in May 2013 who used at least two tech platforms—including email, text or social—to connect with others during a given week, and found that average time spent per week on email, text and social among these respondents reached 23 hours.

Email and Facebook each saw 87% of respondents logging in weekly to communicate with others. Just more than three out of 10 logged on to Twitter and YouTube once a week to connect. Even niche social networks like Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest saw more than one in 10 respondents log in to each platform at least once a week.

Digital Platforms that US Internet Users* Have Used to Communicate with Others**, May 2013 (% of respondents)

Breaking down how much the average user of each social or tech platform among the respondent group spent on a given activity, email still took the greatest amount of time per week, at 7.8 hours. But that was followed closely by Facebook, which occupied an average 6.8 hours per week of users’ time, while YouTube took 5 hours. And interestingly, Google+ users spent just slightly more time on average on the site (4.3 hours) than Twitter users (4.2 hours). This indicates that Google+ may be proving sticky among those who regularly use the site, even as overall usage is still much higher on Twitter.

In terms of frequency of use, those who have joined the niche social networks seem fairly attached. Among the tech-connected respondent pool, more than 80% of users of each site logged in at least once a week. More than three-quarters of Twitter users logged in every day, as did those on Facebook.

Photo-focused sites, particularly suited to mobile, seem to be especially popular. Instagram saw 70% of users logging in daily, and the relatively new Snapchat was just behind with 67% of its users logging in daily.

Digital Activities of US Internet Users*, by Frequency, May 2013 (% of respondents)

But as social channels proliferate and time spent on those platforms rises, even the most digitally connected consumers are beginning to fatigue. Fifty-four percent of respondents said they had walked away from technology at least occasionally last year to gain time in-person, and a greater percentage—62%—said they planned to reduce their tech socializing time next year and instead focus on face-to-face interaction.

GFK reported in April that last year, social networks occupied 37 minutes of the average US consumer’s time per day, up considerably from 30 minutes per day in 2011.

Daily Time Spent with Digital Media According to US Consumers, 2010-2012 (hrs:mins)

Even as web users report a desire to disconnect, and discussion circulates about Facebook users decreasing time spent, it remains to be seen whether social users will follow through on that promise to log off, or perhaps simply translate their time spent on social to the sites that best suit their communication needs.

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