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Australia Getting More Social Online as Facebook Leads and Twitter Grows

3 minute read | March 2010

With Facebook leading the way and Twitter activity on the rise, Australians are rapidly increasing their participation in social media, content sharing and brand interaction. Nearly four in five (78%) of Australia’s nine million social media users sent or shared a photo in the past year and nearly three quarters (74%) sent or shared a link. The biggest increases in social media usage were reading and posting on Twitter, reading wikis and engaging with brands and organizations via social media.

Australia’s Fastest Growing Social Media Activities
Activity 2009 2008 YOY Change
Read messages on Twitter 23% 7% 16%
Interacted with a brand via social network 38% 23% 15%
Read a wiki 72% 61% 11%
Posted on Twitter 13% 4% 9%
Browsed/followed brands on Twitter 14% 5% 9%
Interacted with people on a social network 63% 55% 8%
Watched online video for product/service 63% 57% 6%
Updated a social networking profile 57% 51% 6%
Looked at a social networking profile 73% 67% 6%
Posted pictures online 68% 63% 5%
Source: The Nielsen Company

Twitter’s audience levels grew by more than 400% in 2009 and nearly one quarter of online Australians (23%) read ‘tweets’ in the past year, 14 percent ‘followed’ companies or organizations via Twitter (up from 5% in 2008) and 13 percent posted ‘tweets’ (up from 4% in 2008). Wikis continued to grow as a popular form of online content – close to three quarters of Australian Internet users (73%) read a wiki in the past year compared to 61 percent in 2008 and just 37 percent in 2007. Nearly two in five online Australians are now interacting with companies via social networking sites, reinforcing notions that Australians are open to engaging with brands and companies online.

“The opportunities for brands and companies to tap into the social media phenomenon are really just beginning to emerge and to date we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg,” states Melanie Ingrey, Research Director for Nielsen’s online business. “Incredibly, nearly nine in 10 (86%) of Australian’s online are looking to their fellow Internet users for opinions and information about products, services and brands, and Australians’ engagement with online word of mouth communication is going to increase in coming years as social media plays an increasingly important role in consumer decision making.”


Social networking on sites such as Facebook was a key driver in Australians’ trial and uptake of social media. Close to three in four online Australians (73%) have looked at others’ profiles on social networks and well over one third (37%) of these report to be interacting with others via social networking sites on a daily basis. Facebook dominates the online social networking space, with three quarters of Australian Internet users (75%) reporting to have visited Facebook, 59 percent have a Facebook profile, and the average time spent on Facebook in a given month is 8:19 hours – seven and a half hours more than its closest rival site, YouTube. Moreover, 83 percent of social networkers name Facebook as their main social networking platform, up from 72 percent in 2008 and 34 percent in 2007. And, as reported recently in a global view of social networking usage, Nielsen data showed that Australia topped even the U.S. when it came to time spent per person on social networks.

Networking On The Go

The rise in smartphone ownership (43% of online Australians now own a smartphone) and relaxed download caps on mobile phone plans has seen mobile social networking gain traction in the past year. Nielsen found that over one quarter of social networkers (26%) participated in mobile social networking in the past year, with younger consumers the most likely to participate in social networking via mobile – 66 percent of mobile social networkers are under 35 years of age. Facebook is the most popular social networking site accessed via a mobile (92% of mobile social networkers have visited Facebook), followed by YouTube and Twitter (18%) and MySpace (9%). However, Twitter sees the most frequent mobile usage, with half of its mobile users visiting the site daily. In comparison, Facebook saw 36 percent of its mobile users visit the site daily, while 22 percent of MySpace users and 16 percent of YouTube users were making daily visits.

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