Reading studies about trends in digital marketing is not how I prefer to spend leisure time. But they can be a nice counter balance to the time spent trying to convince organizations that social media are not going away (unlike mainstream media).
A comScore Inc. recap of digital marketing in 2009 in the U.S. released yesterday tells us, among other revealing findings (Would you have guessed that the largest growth rate in e-commerce in 2009 was in the purchase of books and magazines?), that people in the U.S. continue to flood to Facebook and Twitter, and to a lesser extent MySpace.
According to the study:
"Facebook grew substantially across nearly every performance metric in 2009. Unique visitors, page views, and total time spent all increased by a factor of two or more. Frequency metrics such as average minutes per usage day (up 6 percent) and average usage days per visitors (up 37 percent) also saw gains. As more people use Facebook more frequently, the site has grown to account for three times as much total time spent online as it did last year."
Others with an analytic predisposition can deep dive into the charts and graphs in comScore's study. Suffice to to say from my perspective this even more important than the huge numbers tossed around which compare Facebook's 350 million or so users to the populations of various countries.
The numbers are telling us that people are coming to Facebook more often, spending more time there, and exploring the Facebook landscape more broadly.
As for Twitter, someone commented on a recent Tweet of mine which asked whether I should try to be funnier in my posts that I shouldn't because it is a "business medium." The comment may have been justified a year ago given the demographic composition of users, but the change in the age of Twitter users (which now total 20 million in the U.S.) may bring that assumption in question:
"The initial success of Twitter was largely driven by users in the 25-54 year old age segment, which made up 65 percent of all visitors to the site in December 2008, with 18-24 year olds accounting for just 9 percent of visitors . . . Despite Twitter's initially older skew, as it gained widespread popularity with the help of celebrity Tweeters and mainstream media coverage, younger users flooded to the site in large numbers, with those under the age 18 (up 6.2 percentage points) and 18-24 year olds (up 7.9 percentage points) representing the fastest growing demographic segments."
There may be troubling questions about the options for monetizing these platforms so they can be sustained and about the ability best ways to harness online networks for marketing purposes, but there is clearly every reason to keep at it. These platforms are in increasing part of how the world plays out its relationships, idea and information excahgne, civic engagement and, yes, product and service research.