Report underlines new internet divide for SMEs to conquer – Facebook users and the rest

Facebook users engage with and view the internet differently than non-Facebook users and businesses must tailor their content publishing and advertising campaigns with this information in mind, a new Nielsen report has revealed.

The report also shows more Australians are logging onto the social networking giant, with more Australians aged over 50 now logged on to the site compared to those without an account.

The Facebook report shows that of the 14 million Australians who use the internet during any given month, about 63% are Facebook users, around 8.8 million, while the remaining 37% or 5.2 million do not having anything to do with the site.

Additionally, the report shows there is an increasing divide between the approach taken to the internet between Facebook and non-Facebook users. Excluding activity on the site altogether, Facebook users are spending about 3.26 times longer on the internet at an average 25.8 hours, compared to 9.91 hours for non-Facebook users.

In January, the amount of time spent on Facebook alone by users came in at 8.32 hours, compared to the average overall time spent on the internet by non-users at 8.13 hours. The share of online time given to Facebook has increased from 20% in July 2009 to 27% in February 2010.

Mark Higginson, Nielsen director of Analytics, believes the figures show how Facebook users are approaching and interacting with the internet differently, compared to non-users.

“We wanted to determine what types of activity people are engaging in, so we split them into two groups. There are substantial sizes of population in both, with over five million who don’t use Facebook. And it turns out there are a large number of differences in engagements.”

“First of all, if you take Facebook out of the question entirely, Facebook users are still spending an enormous amount of time on the internet in general. In fact, recently those figures show that Facebook users have spent the same amount of time just on Facebook that non-users spent on the internet entirely.”

Higginson says the two groups approach the internet differently. While Facebook users view the internet as a medium for consuming entertainment, non-Facebook users generally view the internet as a means for getting things done.

“Facebook users are spending a lot more time using video, a lot more time on entertainment sites, and so on. Our conclusion is that those who use Facebook view it as another media platform. They think, “will I watch television or surf on the internet for a while?”.

“Whereas non-Facebook users tend to the view the internet as more functionally orientated. They think, “I have to do my banking” or “I have to pay this bill”. Facebook users consume media, whereas non-users use the internet as a tool.”

Higginson also points out the differences have less to do with age than one might think. There are currently 2.1 million Australians aged over 50 using Facebook, while there are 2.07 million non-users who regularly use the internet.

He also says these figures demonstrate how businesses, especially those publishing content such as video and other types of media, should approach the different types of internet users.

“I think there are some people out there who will use the internet and engage with content, and others who won’t. So if you’re an advertiser and you want to get a brand message across, or you want a rich campaign, then you want to target those people who are consuming media, the Facebook users.”

“Then there are others who use the internet as a needs-oriented tool, and you have to develop your program with those people in mind. This doesn’t have consequences just for business, but also publishers and anyone thinking about content creation.”

Want to know how you can market your business on Facebook? Come back tomorrow for SmartCompany’s guide to creating the best Facebook page for your business.

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