The folks at Nielsen are pretty good at media market research and providing extensive (and more importantly accurate) data within various verticals including entertainment, advertising and recently, a growing industry which combines both:  Social Media.

In this year’s Social Media Report which Nielsen released earlier today, a staggering statistic was revealed regarding social media usage – Americans collectively spent 121.1 billion minutes on social networks in July of 2012 alone!

Nielsen's 2012 Social Media Report
Image Courtesy of Nielsen

According to the infographic published by Nielsen, 5.7 billion of those minutes were logged via mobile devices, 40.8 billion were through apps and somewhat surprisingly, 74 billion minutes were attributed to desktop/laptop users.  Even more surprisingly, apps and PCs experienced significantly more growth in this sector than smartphones and tablets.

What’s less shocking is Facebook’s continued dominance in the social media industry.  The world’s largest social network accumulated an average of over 300 million visitors per month this year.  Facebook also proved to be the most engaging network in terms of audience retention, as users spent more time on the site than any networks such as Google+, Twitter or Pinterest.

Speaking of Pinterest, the up-and-coming, visually-appealing social startup has earned the title of Fastest Growing Network of 2012, having grown by over 1,000% since 2011.  Blogger, Twitter, WordPress and LinkedIn were amongst the other top networks this year.

What do these stats mean for business owners?  Most importantly, they’re an undeniable indicator of social media’s staying power and usefulness as a marketing tool.  Every minute that a user spends on a networking site sharing, following and liking is another opportunity for businesses to achieve greater consumer awareness and gain new customers.  With literally billions of minutes a month being spent on social media, those opportunities are virtually limitless.

Furthermore, these statistics show that while Facebook is the most obvious target for Social Media Optimization & Social Media Marketing campaigns, rapidly emerging networks like Pinterest are truly capable of gaining market share and getting noticed in the social media landscape and shouldn’t be overlooked as potential marketing platforms.  The data speaks for itself: Social Media is a valuable resource for businesses and those not utilizing it are undoubtedly missing out on one of the world’s largest and most effective promotional outlets.

What are your thoughts on Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report?  I’d like to know your thoughts on how social media marketing will change in the year ahead.  Leave a comment below, send an email or a tweet with your opinions and insights on the future of Social Media!

Throughout this year’s Presidential campaign, Twitter played an instrumental role.  Both candidates expertly utilized the network and kept voters engaged by addressing major issues and promoting their public appearances.  As our own social media expert, Mike Stricker pointed out in a comment on one of my previous posts; Barack Obama was even responsible for generating the most re-tweets in history for a political message on Twitter.

Following the election, Twitter released an interesting new application, the Political Engagement Map, which demonstrates the impact of the candidates’ most influential tweets.

Twitter's Political Engagement Map

The tool breaks down the tweets by state, engagement level and even keywords.  Not only is it intriguing to see which tweets drove the best results for Romney and Obama, but it’s also interesting to learn more about the demographics which had the most online social influence on the campaign itself.

Furthermore, a re-working of the Political Engagement Map application could prove to be very useful to social media marketers in order to learn more about their own engagement levels and demographics.  Although Twitter hasn’t announced any plans to develop the application beyond its current form, it is good to see the network delivering new offerings to its users and I hope to see more tools like this from Twitter in the future.

To check out the Political Engagement Map for yourself, visit https://election.twitter.com/map/.

What do you think about Twitter’s Political Engagement Map?  Leave a comment or reach out to me via email or Twitter!

New York and New Jersey are still recovering from the devastation brought by Hurricane Sandy. When it’s all said and done, weeks and months will pass and the monetary cost will be astronomical, which is to say nothing of the lives lost.

I was lucky to get little more than a few strong gusts and plenty of wind where I live. Like many people, I was glued to my Twitter feed, trying to keep tabs on what was going on all along the Northeast. I had the TV on too, but that wasn’t telling the whole story. It was amazing to see Twitter come into its own as a major source of information and communication. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sent out a tweet in the middle of the night October 29th saying how proud he was of Twitter at that moment. Social media companies, of course, want to present themselves as being important. But during those couple days, Twitter really was a valuable resource.

Hurricane Sandy and Twitter

If you were on Twitter that night, you know what I mean. People who had lost power relied on their phones for updates. People were RTing locations of others in desperate need. Pictures (many taken on Instagram) were shared, showing the devastation in real time. Mayors and governors were tweeting constantly, sending out instructions and alerts. For those without power, but with a charged phone, it was their only access to the outside world. And for those who were lucky enough to be unscathed, it provided a window into just how much help would be needed.

In the aftermath of the storm, Twitter continues to be used for everything, ranging from direct communication with ConEd (seriously, check out their feed) to helping people adopt animals that were left homeless or abandoned by the storm.

IGoogle on a Tabletn recent years, mobile Internet usage has increased dramatically and smartphones, tablets and other mobile computing devices are now the primary point of connectivity for a rapidly growing mobile demographic.  For Internet marketers, reaching this massive user base is essential in creating more effective campaigns.

In order to truly achieve optimal visibility throughout social media, developing mobile-friendly sites, pages and content are a must.  With Facebook and Twitter ramping up their mobile advertising efforts, it has become easier for social media marketers to build campaigns which target tablet and smartphone users, but even with some help from the networks themselves, it is still important to fully understand the metrics of mobile online marketing.

The Big Difference
The most critical aspect to keep in mind when developing mobile-specific content is compatibility.  Does your site have a design that looks good and loads quickly on a tablet or smartphone?  Is your rich content mobile-friendly?  If not, any pages or content shared throughout the mobile Web is virtually useless.  Additionally, social media marketers can take full advantage of popular apps such as Instagram in order to generate more original content geared toward mobile users.

The impact of mobile device usage on social media campaigns is already being noticed and as new “must-haves” such as Apple’s iPad Mini, Google’s Nexus 7 and Microsoft’s Surface make their long-anticipated debuts this holiday season, the market is expected to grow even larger in the months ahead.  Every social media marketer should pay attention to their mobile audience and understand the value of building campaigns with this ever-increasing demographic in mind.

Share your thoughts on social media marketing in the comments section below or drop me a line at brymshaw@webimax.com or @brwebimax on Twitter.

Earlier today, I read an article posted on Reuters.com discussing the impact of Twitter on this year’s historic Presidential election.  One quote within the article that particularly stood out was:

“Through the course of a long and bitter presidential campaign, Twitter often served as the new first rough draft of history.”

It’s a great point and a hard one to disagree with.  In fact, last night truly displayed the power of Twitter as one of the most significant public media outlets, both on and offline.  A record-breaking 31 million tweets related to the election spread throughout the Web last night, with 23 million of those appearing between 6pm EST and midnight.  Just after 11pm, Twitter users generated an incredible 327,000 tweets per minute leading up to the announcement of Obama’s victory.  According to Twitter’s spokeswoman, Rachael Horwitz, the election was “the most tweeted about event in U.S. political history.”

Although President Obama and Mitt Romney aggressively utilized Twitter during their respective campaigns, last night’s unprecedented social engagement levels truly brought the network to the forefront of mainstream news and media.

Twitter, as well as Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and other prominent social networks, provide a level of both visibility and credibility to individuals and organizations that have proven difficult to achieve through other platforms.  With both candidates extensively using social networks to help gain votes and raise greater awareness to their campaigns, the popularity of these networks has soared and only continues to grow and prove their value as promotional tools.

Last night, history was undoubtedly made as the incumbent President was re-elected.  Before I was even able to get to the nearest TV or radio to find out who would be residing in the White House for the next four years, the following tweet appeared on my Twitter feed:

Today, as Obama begins to prepare for four more years in office, myself and thousands of other social media users will remember the tweet that announced his victory to the world and the instrumental role social media played throughout this historic campaign.

Although this year’s election has been the most expensive in US history to date (with a total price tag of over $2 billion), the most significant platform utilized by both Romney and Obama to enhance their visibility throughout the campaign may, surprisingly, be the most cost effective, as well.  Social media first proved its worth in the political arena during President Obama’s groundbreaking 2008 campaign.  The usage of YouTube and Facebook to connect with a vast, diverse audience had undeniably helped Obama pull ahead in the polls and capture coveted demographics in crucial swing states such as Ohio.

By creating a new form of “digital grassroots” campaign, Obama was able to successfully reach voters who spent more time on Facebook and YouTube than watching C-SPAN or reading political publications.  Additionally, the least expensive element of Obama’s campaign proved to be the social media component, as the President’s social following was largely organic and the campaign’s online ad spend was far less than its print and television counterparts.  The first ever “Social Election” was a complete success and had paved the way for future campaigns.

Fast Forward to 2012…
As the incumbent, Obama now maintains a sizeable lead in terms of social following.  As mentioned by both Todd Bailey and Mike Stricker in our “Social Media & Election 2012” Web series, Obama’s following has been substantially greater than Mitt Romney’s on networks such as Facebook and Twitter since the outset.  However, Romney’s campaign has placed a strong emphasis on social media and this has made the race to the White House much more competitive.

While the size and scope of this campaign has been greater than any before it, the role of social media marketing has played an instrumental role in the overall reach of the campaign.  Going forward, candidates will almost certainly need to make social media a major part of their campaign efforts in order to raise awareness and establish themselves amongst the ever-expanding Internet audience.