Nielsen is the source of all sorts of thought-provoking data about how we use technology, and its latest Social Media report for 2012 --jammed with hundreds upon hundreds of statistics on how we use the social web--is no different. In fact some of the figures Nielsen talks about are so astonishing they're worth highlighting all by themselves.
For example. We know there's a slow-boiling  battle for control of the "second screen ," aka the tablet that sits in your lap while you're watching the TV (and also a battle for the third, fourth, and fifth screen  in your life). But Nielsen's data proves how enormously influential this market could be: 41% of U.S. tablet owners and 38% of smartphone owners use their device daily while watching TV. Those are not statistics associated with a temporary fad--they're stats reporting a serious habit among hundreds of millions of consumers.
4% of these dual-screen tablet users were using social media while watching TV, presumably either chatting about the show or distracting themselves during less interesting bits on the big screen. 35% were checking data about the show they were watching, and just 26% checked out product information for something they'd seen advertised on TV. That's a stat that will be viewed in interest in ad agencies up and down the land. Smartphone users did all the same acts, but in lower percentages--proving the tablet has become king of second screens.
In terms of social TV, a field that many players  like Get Glue  have been trying to dominate, it turns out that the real player of the day is Twitter. During June 2012 fully a third of active Twitterers posted tweets relating to TV content, an increase of some 27% over the same figure at the start of the year.
In a statistic that will surely bug the executives at Facebook, ever on the hunt for ways to monetize the slipping privacy of their user's data, Nielsen says some 33% of surveyed consumers said ads on social networking sites were more annoying than other online ads. But, somewhat contrarily, 17% of consumers said they felt "more connected" to brands that had a presence on social networking sites (again, not necessarily good news for Facebook , since brands are using Twitter  as a chat channel to reach their clients).
And Nielsen's data does prove that social media advertising or interaction does help, with consumers all around the world. For example, 75% (yup, that's three in every four respondees!) Asia-Pacific consumers questioned said that during the next year they were likely to make a purchase of home electronics based on social media site info or online reviews of the products. 67% of Latin American consumers felt the same, compared to 63% of Middle-Eastern/African consumers and a cautious 48% of Europeans.
This international characteristic seems to be echoed across all purchase types, with Asian consumers much more likely to decide based on online info for items from appliances to baby care. And different industries will need to pay attention to Nielsen's data here: No matter where they were from, consumers looked online much more for Entertainment and Electronics categories of products and services than they did for Clothing and Fashion Categories, and the least online-influenced categories seem to be baby care and dating.
Finally, Nielsen's stats underline a trend we've long known is true and which will be good news for Apple and Google. Use of PCs to visit the top social media sites is tailing off slowly, probably mirroring the slow end  of the traditional PC. But the unique mobile audience for Facebook's app is up 88% year-on-year, Twitter's is up 134%, and while it's yet very small in terms of traffic, Pinterest's app use is up an amazing 1,698%.
[Image: Flickr user Shardayyy ]