Social networks drive online sales

10% of consumers have bought online based on a social media ad, a report says.

Zak Stambor

Social media is growing up. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks have become an integral part of consumers’ daily lives, transforming how they consume news, resolve customer service issues and shop, according to The Nielsen Co.’s “State of the Media: The Social Media Report 2012.” And increasingly consumers are accessing social networks from mobile phones and tablets.

Social networks account for 20% of the time consumers spend on a PC and 30% of their time on a mobile device. In terms of time, U.S. consumers spent 121.1 billion minutes on social media sites in July 2012, up 37.0% from 88.4 billion minutes a year earlier.

The report looked at advertising on social networks. 10% of consumers have made an online purchase of a product they saw advertised on a social network and 8% have made an offline purchase based on one of those ads. 18% of consumers have purchased or obtained a coupon via a social network, such as by clicking a Like button on Facebook.

The report also found that 47% of consumers who use social networks seek to get their customer service issues addressed on a social network. And one in three social media users prefer to get information through an online social network instead of contacting a company by phone.

While Facebook remains the largest social network by far with 152.23 million unique U.S. visitors in July, that number actually dropped 4% from a year earlier. Meanwhile, Twitter, with 37.0 million unique visitors in July grew 13% year over year. Pinterest, which only launched in 2010, posted the most startling growth; with 27.2 million unique visitors in July its traffic jumped 1,047% from the same time a year ago.

Since September 2011, when Google+ opened up to the public, the social network grew 80% to 26.2 million unique monthly visitors in July. And Tumblr grew 55% to 25.6 million in July from July of last year

The report found that mobile is increasingly important for social networks, as every social network Nielsen monitored saw growth among unique monthly mobile users in July. Facebook’s mobile app usage grew 88% to 78.4 million and its mobile site grew 85% to 74.3 million visitors. Twitter’s mobile app usage grew 134% to 22.6 million, and its mobile site jumped 140% to 42.4 million visitors.  And Pinterest’s mobile app soared 1,698% to 4.9 million, while its mobile site skyrocketed 4,225% to 14.3 million.

Overall, 95.2 million U.S. consumers visited a social network mobile site in July, up 82% from 52.4 million a year earlier, Nielsen says. And 101.8 million used a social network mobile app, up 85% from 55.0 million in 2011. Meanwhile, 204.7 million visited a social network on a PC, down 4% from 213.3 million. 


e-commerce, Facebook, Google+, mobile apps, Pinterest, social media, social media marketing, State of the Media: The Social Media Report 2012, The Nielson Co., Twitter