Facebook's Users Spend More ToS Than Twitter's

Last Updated Jun 3, 2009 12:48 AM EDT

Granted, Twitter is the expanding faster than any other galaxy in the digital universe, but it still has a long way to grow before it can catch up to Facebook, which, according to a new report from Nielsen Online, remains by far the social media site where users spend the most time.

Measuring the time spent on these sites (ToS) is getting to be a little like astronomy because the numbers are so vast as to challenge comprehension. You can examine the raw numbers here, but I'm going to translate them into something a tad more palpable, I hope.

Collectively, the 200 million or so Facebook users spent the equivalent of over 9.5 million years on the site in April. This averages out to 70 minutes per person, or roughly three complete days -- about 10 percent of the month.

That, my friends, is a lot of face-time, and no other social media site can boast anything like Facebook's hold on its audience. Twitter's much smaller user base, by contrast, collectively spent around 140,555 years Tweeting, reTweeting, or Following in April, according to the report. (Due to the lack of comparable traffic figures for Twitter, I cannot offer an equivalent estimate of ToS per user at this time.)
The overall use of social media grew by 83 percent year-over-year. Beyond the micro-blogging and social networking sites, there was also a substantial amount of growth in ToS recorded by blog platforms. Blogger grew by 30 percent over the past year; the smaller LiveJournal logged a 273 percent growth rate.

But, the second-largest social media site, MySpace, lost 31 percent of its audience.

Meanwhile, Twitter's annual Tos growth rate , as measured by Nielsen, was an astounding 3,712 percent -- well over five times that of Facebook's, at 699 percent. Together, if this should continue, a year from now the two sites will collectively have users spending some 72 million years per month on their sites.

By then, we may need another "new math" to track this kind of stuff.

  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital, Salon.com, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.