Social Networks Trump other Media as Free-Time Activity

May 3, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Media & Entertainment | Social Media | Youth & Gen X

Social networks have caused a fundamental shift in the way people interact with each other and with media, with more than 70% of Americans 15-34 actively using online social networks, according to a recent study, the findings of which were released at the “Never-Ending Friending” conference for News Corp’s Fox Interactive Media (FIM) marketing clients.

Examining both the growth and marketing power of online social networks, the study issued by FIM was conducted in partnership with Isobar and Carat USA by marketing research firms TRU, TNS and Marketing Evolution.

The research showed that social networking sites have gained a foothold in the primetime hours; that they enrich existing relationships with family and friends; and they initiate meaningful brand connections, according to FIM.

“Momentum”

More than 40% of all social networkers said they use social networking sites to learn more about brands or products that they like, and 28% said at some point a “friend” has recommended a brand or product to them.

The research found that brands Adidas and Electronic Arts, which have run campaigns on MySpace, attributed more than 70% of their marketing return on investment to the “Momentum Effect” – a metric coined by Marketing Evolution to quantify the impact of a brand within a social network, going beyond traditional advertising impressions to encompass the “pass-along” power of consumer-to-consumer communication.

Never-Ending Friending

Asked which free-time activity they would choose, U.S. social networkers chose interacting on sites such as MySpace.com as their favorite activity online or offline, ahead of television-viewing and on par with cell phone usage, FIM reports.
 
Moreover, 69% said they use social networks to connect with people who are already their friends, and 41% said they connect with family members.

Current social networkers spend on average more than seven hours per week on social networking sites. Also, more than 31% of online social networkers claim they spend more time on the Web in general after having started to use a social network.

Social networkers were also more inclined to engage in other entertainment media and activities, including listening to music, playing games and talking on the cell phone, according to the study.

Reasons for Popularity

The research also focused on the reasons users rely on online social networks.

  • 48% said they are having more fun in life in general.
  • 45% said their lives are more exciting as a result of spending time networking online.
  • 57% said they’ve found more people with similar interest.
  • 52% said they feel more in tune with what’s happening socially in their lives due to social networking sites.

Methodology: The Never-Ending Friending study was conducted in multiple phases encompassing independently fielded qualitative, quantitative and client case study research. A series of focus groups of MySpace users in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York were conducted by TRU. An online survey of 3,000+ U.S. panelists aged 14-40 was conducted by TNS and included three segments: MySpace users, social networkers from other sites, and non-social networkers. Detailed case studies, including behavioral tracking and survey measurement with two MySpace clients, Adidas and Electronic Arts were conducted by ROI measurement firm Marketing Evolution.

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