Is Facebook Really More Important To Us Than Food?

Americans are reshaping their lives around social media.

Tom cook of Facebook’s systems engineering group recently provided some amazing statistics to the attendees of the O’Reilly Velocity Conference. The crown jewel of statistics, however, was the fact that Facebook users are spending around 16 billion minutes each day (yes…billion with ‘B’) on the site. Combine that with the fact that Facebook has 400 million registered users, 50% of whom login daily and you can easily derive a rough daily average use.

Daily Minutes Spent on FBRegistered Users% That Login DailyFormula
16,000,000,000400,000,00050%(16,000,000,000/400,000,000*.5) = 80

Yes, you’re reading that correctly! Facebook users are spending roughly 80 minutes each day on the site. The scope of the numbers doesn’t really hit home, however, until you put it in the context of how Americans have typically spent their time prior to Facebook. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008 Americans ages 25-54 with children spent their time on the following activities:

Since there are only 24 hours in a day, this information logically leads to the question of what Americans have chosen NOT to do, in lieu of their 80 minutes of Facebook time. Even if we put Facebook in the “Other” category, Facebook consumes a large chunk of that piece of the pie, even larger than eating and drinking and equal to caring for others.

My gut, however, is that it’s not reasonable to carve Facebook time out of the Other category. Since the blogosphere, LinkedIn and Twitter are buzzing with conversation around “Facebooking” at work and the concerns that arise from potential loss in productivity, it seems more logical to carve the time out of the Working and Sleeping categories. The resulting chart would look like this:

Keep in mind that these derived charts only take into account the amount of time spent on Facebook. Add additional time for social media activities such as Tweeting, uploading/viewing YouTube videos, checking in on FourSquare, or reading product reviews on Yelp and the impact to other areas of our lives is magnified. Also, keep in mind that these numbers are for people 25-40 and don’t reflect that amplified impact to younger generations who are even more involved in social media activities than the demographics covered in these charts.

So what’s the takeaway from these numbers? Social media isn’t just something that college students do and it’s not just something we do in our “spare time”. Social media adoption is spanning broad demographic ranges and the time spent friending, following, and tweeting is impacting other areas of our lives. Consumers engaged in social media are using it to keep them connected with friends and family, select restaurants, make purchasing decisions, and keep up with current events. Tie that to the fact that more than 100 million active Facebook users are accessing the site via their mobile devices, and it becomes more obvious that social media is becoming integrated with all aspects of Americans lives and is influencing their daily schedules.

Final Note: I know…it’s not the most scientific means of deriving the impact of social media on our daily lives, but when I initially started digging into this, I was amazed at the amount of time that was being spent on Facebook alone. I’d love to hear comments/feedback and your thoughts.

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