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Social Media Use Grew Fast in 2012

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Americans are spending a lot more time using social media, even though the number of people using the top sites doesn't appear to be growing any more, according to the annual report on social media usage released last week by Nielson and NM Incite.

The researchers estimated Americans spent a whopping 121 billion minutes using social media websites in July 2012, an increase of 36 percent from the 88.4 billion minutes they spent the previous July.

About half of that time--62 billion minutes-- was claimed by Facebook, the top social network. While slightly fewer people used Facebook in July 2012--its user count was down four percent from the previous year--those who do use it are spending a lot more time with the network, the study concluded.

Twitter's user count rose, as did the number of people using WordPress, a popular blogging platform. By contrast, traffic was down a bit to another top social media site--Blogger, Google's blogging platform.

Mobile use of social media continues to grow, researchers found, with roughly a third of social media activity occurring on mobile devices and apps. Nielsen found that mobile Web use overall jumped 82 percent from July 2011 to July 2012, at a time when use of desktop computers declined by 4 percent.

According to the report, we now spend a third of our social media time on mobile apps. The amount of time we spend on social apps grew by 76% from last year.

The social network that showed the sharpest growth in 2012 was Pinterest, the image-sharing network. Desktop computer use of Pinterest increased 1,047 percent, Nielsen reported.

Another interesting factoid from the report is how heavily young people are using social media. Slightly more than half of those ages 25 to 34 reported using social media at work, and one in three younger people--from age 18 to 24--said they even use it in the bathroom.

People told researchers they felt "connected" after using social media, and 76 percent of those surveyed reported a positive outlook about it. There were, of course, also negative emotions associated with social media, which 21 percent of respondants said they had experienced. Negative emotions often cited included being jealous or sad.

It's no wonder that many people feel addicted to social media, considering how may hours people spend using it. Read more about social networking addiction.

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