Surprise! Facebook Is the Biggest Online Time Waster, Says Nielsen

And women like it more than men

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Nielsen, most famous for its traditional media ratings, has been trying to keep up with the social media boom, announcing last month that it was teaming up with Facebook to offer ratings services for online marketing campaigns. And today, the ratings go-to has released the results of a comprehensive new study offering a big-picture look at social media, reports The New York Times.

According to Nielsen’s “State of the Media: The Social Media Report,” social media accounts for 22.5 percent of the time that Americans spend online, compared with 9.8 percent for online games and 7.6 percent for email. That makes social media the No. 1 specific category and the No. 2 category overall, behind the other ways in which Americans pass their time online—which includes (unsurprisingly) browsing adult content, online shopping, and reading about topics like sports or health.

The report found that Facebook is the top social media brand that Americans choose to spend (or waste) their time with. During May, when Nielsen compiled its report, Americans spent 53.5 billion minutes on Facebook’s site from computers at home and work—up 6 percent from a mere 50.6 billion minutes in May 2010.

After Facebook was Google’s Blogger, at 723.8 million minutes; Tumblr, at 623.5 million minutes; Twitter, at 565.2 million minutes; and finally, LinkedIn, at 325.7 million minutes.

The report also made note of some differences between the sexes in their online habits. Nielsen found that Facebook reaches 70 percent of active Internet users in the United States, 62 percent of which were female. In addition, more women than men watched video clips on blogs and social networks, but men streamed more videos and spent more time watching them than women did.

@adweekemma Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.