It's the most social-ist time of the year

The holidays are a time to be social and to engage co-workers, friends, and family. And, in case we needed any reminding, Americans are getting more social all the time - at least when it comes to the use of social media.

The holidays are a time to be social and to engage co-workers, friends, and family. And, in case we needed any reminding, Americans are getting more social all the time – at least when it comes to the use of social media.

So says data from Nielsen's 2012 “State of the Media Social Media Report” that finds Americans spent more than 121 billion minutes engaged in social media networking across various platforms in 2012. This figure represents an impressive 37% increase from the 88.4 billion minutes we spent surfing, texting, following, liking, posting and various other verbs in 2011.

While Facebook checks in as the most popular social site, where 17% of consumers' PC time is spent, Pinterest is the destination with the most impressive gains. The popular pin-board style site's computer audience has grown by more than 1,000% and its mobile app audience is up by almost 1,700%. Google+ is the second-fastest-growing platform, having experienced an 80% bump in use over the last year.

And just as we think about social gatherings at our friends' and neighbors' houses this season, it seems we really get social in the comfort of our own home. Nielsen says 32% of those ages 18-24 use social networking in the privacy of the bathroom. The older, more mature 25- to 34-year-olds prefer to take their socializing to the office, by a 51% preference. Which, of course, begs the question, “where and when are they working?”

Despite social's widespread and global use, I am never amazed at how slowly some companies are making it a part of their marketing and communication mix. If ever we needed justification to pitch a client program, Nielsen's findings serve a valuable tonic visually, showing how, why, and where we prefer to socialize. It is chock full of useful data.

So hang in there as we enter the hustle bustle of the holidays and hang on to the use of social as a viable platform. And, the next time you find yourself at yet another lame Christmas party – excuse yourself kindly to the bathroom. Turns out you will be in good company.

Tim Ryan is SVP of Bliss Integrated Communication and director of its Chicago office. He can be reached at tim@blissintegrated.com or @timinchicago.

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