Why internet users and social media users are now essentially the same thing

According to Internet World Stats, there are now 2.3 Billion Internet users on our planet. That’s approximately 33% of the world’s population. Growth over the last decade has been registered at 528%. The growth rate is only expected to increase during this decade.

With that in mind, consider these recent ComScore findings:

In October 2011, 1.2 billion users around the world visited social networking sites. Most notably, nearly 1 in every 5 online minutes is now spent in social networks.

In terms of worldwide age demographics, the breakdown is as follows:

Keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean all these people are hard-core social content creators. Some may be clicking through to social sites based on something they found through a Google search. As I’ve indicated in the past, online users should always be further segmented based on their online behaviour.

What is significant about these findings however is that they indicate we need to stop thinking of social media users as a separate category of internet users (unless we are sub-segmenting of course). All internet users are now in one way or another influenced by social content (often without even knowing it). I find that this is a point that is clearly missed by many senior leaders in organizations that still treat social media in a silo as opposed to looking at it as part of a holistic web presence.

I look forward to the day when the phrase “social media users” will be merged into “internet users” as people realize this fact.

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