According to research company Nielsen, a new digital divide is emerging between Facebook users and non-Facebook users.
Findings from a new Nielsen report show that the amount of time spent online and the general level of Internet engagement of Facebook users is far greater than that of non-Facebook users, highlighting the extent to which Facebook is influencing Australian Internet activities. Facebook users spend an average of 3.26 times longer on the Internet than non-Facebook users – 25.8 hours compared to 7.91 hours respectively (see chart 1). Even excluding time spent on Facebook, Facebook users are still spending 2.5 times longer online on average, per month, than those who aren’t on Facebook.
“The results we’ve uncovered in this report are extraordinary in that they point to the emergence of a fractured Internet population consisting of Facebook users and non-Facebook users and each group has distinctly different online habits,” explains Mark Higginson, Director of Research for Nielsen’s online division. “Facebook has created a fundamental shift in Internet usage and those who aren’t using Facebook aren’t really engaged in using the Internet.
Nielsen Internet usage figures show that a substantial proportion of the Australian Internet population is now on Facebook. Of the 14 million Australians who use the Internet in any given month, around 8.8 million (63%) are Facebook users, while 5.2 million (37%) do not engage with the site.
Significantly, the time spent on Facebook by its members is now rivalling total time spent online by non-Facebook users. In January 2010, the average time spent on Facebook per month peaked at over eight hours (8.32 hours) and for the first time was higher than the total time spent online in the month by non-Facebook users (8.13 hours).
Nielsen’s research also shows that Facebook users are becoming more entrenched in their favourite social networking site, with share of online time given to Facebook increasing from 20 percent in July 2009 to 27 percent in February 2010.
“This isn’t just about the rise and rise of Facebook, these numbers have implications for how we view Internet usage as an industry,” emphasises Higginson. “Around the world, advertisers have observed the phenomenal rise of Facebook with a sense of curiosity, anticipation and in many cases perplexity. It is now more evident than ever that those advertisers need to understand how they can tap into this trend and use it as a way to engage their clients, customers, stakeholders and the general Internet population.”