Nielsen gauges the ‘state of the media’

SEPTEMBER 19, 2011 – Social media has offered a rich resource for advertisers and those conducting market research in order to learn what consumers want and how they react to certain marketing tactics. Nielsen recently issued a report on social media, which may help the ad industry create a more complete picture of the audience using these online tools.

The report found that Americans spend almost one-quarter of their internet surfing time on blogs and social networks, with nearly 40 percent of social media users logging into those websites through a mobile phone.

Some of the major players in the social media sphere include Facebook – whose users racked up 53 billion total minutes in May 2011 alone – and Tumblr, which is rapidly growing its audience.

“As the influence of social media – and those using social media – continues to grow, it’s crucial for traditional media, retailers, brands and advertisers to understand how different consumer segments use and share content,” Nielsen researchers wrote in the report.

As Heidi Cohen points out on ClickZ, social media websites can offer visibility into consumer behavior, which can later inform marketing campaigns and a company’s own strategy for the internet platform. Cohen cites the Nielsen study, and says one of its revelations – that 80 percent of internet users have gone to a blog or networking site – means that in order to effectively communicate with your audience, you have to integrate social media with the overall marketing strategy.

“You actually need to listen and participate, not just give lip service to social media,” she advises

It may be easy to assume that because Facebook sucked up the most time that internet users spend online, it is the be-all and end-all of social media, but that would be misguided, Cohen notes.

Directing all your social media marketing efforts toward Facebook will not guarantee results, she writes, and advertisers trying to launch internet campaigns will need to establish goals for what they want to accomplish first. Without some idea of what you need to achieve through social media, it will be nearly impossible to get a fair representation of the results.

“To ensure your marketing effectively engages with your target market, understand how your prospects and customers use these platforms and what they want from your organization,” Cohen concludes.