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A Profile of the Active Social Networker Americans are spending more time on social networks and blogs, according to a new study from Nielsen. Here's what that means for you.

By Mikal E. Belicove

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Social NetworkerThis isn't an episode of Criminal Minds, but if you were conducting an indepth investigative analysis where you were asked to present a profile of the "suspect" most likely to visit social networking sites and blogs, here's what you'd come up with:

Our most active social networker/reader of blogs is a woman between the ages of 18 and 34 and likely to be Asian or Pacific Islander. She lives in New England, holds at least a bachelor's degree and earns less than $50,000 a year.

Nielsen's State of the Media: The Social Media Report – Q3 2011 presents us with this profile tidbit as well as a raft of other facts about the monumental popularity of social media, including not only who's using it, but how social media continues to grow like an amoeba, adding a lot more impact to businesses and brands like yours.

Findings in this new study show that blog posts and social network messages reach nearly 80 percent of online Americans and take up nearly a quarter of the time we spend online. Specifically, such sites consume 22.5 percent of our online time, with online games coming in a distant second at 9.8 percent.

Here are five other social media nuggets to take away from the Nielsen study:

  1. Consumers cling to email, too. Other online activities attracting users in Nielsen's Top 10 are email, with 7.6 percent, followed by portals, videos/movies and search each coming in at around 4 percent. Even less time is consumed in instant messaging (3.3 percent), software manufacturers (3.2 percent), classified auctions (2.9 percent) and current events and global news (2.6 percent.)
  2. Facebook is still king. The report also says Americans spend more time on Facebook than any other website, with figures showing more than 140 million visitors in May. That's nearly triple the 50 million visits logged by the second-highest site, Blogger, which is a hosting platform for individual blogs that use the Blogger domain.
  3. Mobile social networking is rising. While the majority of consumers still access social media through the computer (97 percent), more than a third nowadays (37 percent) are also doing so by mobile phones, with social networking apps gaining favor among such phoners. And surprisingly, more than twice as many people 55 and older are visiting social networking sites on their mobile phones than did so last year.
  4. Peers are powerful. The report shows that active adult social networkers tend to place a premium on their peers' online recommendations when making purchases.
  5. Active social networkers spend more money. Active adult social networkers -- when measured side-by-side with the average Internet user -- are 75 percent more likely to be big spenders on music and 47 percent more likely to spend bundles on clothing, shoes and accessories.

There's a lot more here, and you can request your own copy of the report yourself on Nielsen's Reports and Downloads site. If for no other reason, you can get a handle on how different consumer segments use and share content online.

How have you used greater intelligence about social networking to enhance your business? Let us know in the comments section.

Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. 

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