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US Media Going Social - Online, That Is

Online and social media adoption and consumption in the US is growing at an exponential rate.. You would have to live in cave to have not heard this before. If we look at user base as one dimension to consider, we could evaluate media growth and adoption by audience size goals or reaching a certain threshold such 50 million users (reference: It took radio 38 years to achieve an audience size of 50 million, while TV took 13 years, the Internet took 4 years, iPod 3 years. Drum roll please. Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months! As you can see online social media adoption in the US, based on the tremendous growth of Facebook and other social media sites, the adoption rate of online social media in the US been greatly accelerated relative to adoption rates of off-line media.

One could theorize that the adoption of social media has come at the expense of more traditional media such as newspapers, which according to an article in Yahoo Finance, 24 of the 25 largest newspapers are experiencing record declines in circulation as more user seek news content online.

Those downplaying the growth of online social media in the US may point out that the US population is a lot bigger today than it was when broadcast radio was first introduced in 1906. Population size increase since then would account for some of the reduction in years for a media type to reach 50 million users (more people in US means lower % required to hit 50 million) and so perhaps a better comparison threshold would be achieving some saturation level or % of population. But come on. What about Facebook adding 100 million users in less than 9 months?, What about the current Facebook user base of over 400 million (April 2010), there's simply no denying the pace at which the media landscape is the US evolving, driven by rapid adoption of online social media with Facebook leading the way. Simply amazing.

Not only are the number of Facebook users large, but they are online nearly an hour a day and actively engaged. What's more, according to Facebook, the average user spends 55 minutes per day online or roughly 335 hours in a year! Talk social media, Facebook in this case, driving increased online media consumption in the US. Another eye opening statistic is the 5 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each week according to Facebook. Not only are Facebook users spending a significant amount of time Facebook each day, but they are also actively engaged in the creation and sharing at a rate approach approaching 1 billion pieces of content per day. Not bad when you can get 400 million users to create and share content for free that can then be monetized with contextual and behavioral advertising.

Facebook is a leader in the growth and mainstream adoption of online Social Media in the US. Possibly the most telling sign the Facebook leadership in online social media leadership in the US is that, according to a recent news release by Hitwise, on Mar 15, 2010, Facebook was the top ranked destination of US traffic reaching 7.07% of US Internet traffic as compared to 7.03% for Google. Sure, Facebook had surpassed Google before as the top US Internet destination, but that those were special days when like Christmas and New Years when you expect the surge in Social Media activity, but Mar 15th? While I recognize that comparing Google whose primary focus is Search and Facebook whose primary focus is Social Media.

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