How Are Real Estate Consumers Spending Their Time Online?

There are two axioms that real estate agents live by: know your market and know your customer. Knowing your customer was much easier when clients walked in the door and real estate transactions were conducted in person. The internet is changing the way real estate agents meet and communicate with clients. Today, sellers and buyers are searching for Realtors and real estate information online and initial client contacts are likely to come from information requests on your real estate website, responses to email marketing campaigns or comments on your Facebook page. Knowing how consumers are spending their time online can help real estate professionals determine which online real estate tools will provide the best return on investment.

According to research by the Nielsen Company, 36% of the time Americans spend on the internet is spent on social networking sites, blogs, email and instant messaging. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter attract the bulk of the attention, accounting for 25% of the time people spend on the internet, an annual increase of 43%! As social networks have increased in popularity, use of email and instant messaging has decreased. Americans now spend more than three times as much time on Facebook, Twitter and blogs as they spend reading and sending emails.

Despite losses, email is still the third most popular internet activity, accounting for 8.3% of the time Americans spend online. Internet users may spend more time updating their Facebook pages than they do checking their email, but they are still checking email. As an online communication choice, instant messaging has taken the biggest hit from increased use of social media, accounting for only 4% of total online time, according to the Nielsen report.

Social media was the big winner, although online games (10%) and videos/movies (12%), including YouTube and movie sites, also showed annual usage gains. According to the Nielsen report, 40% of total online usage is spent on 3 activities: social networking, gaming and emailing; but social networks eclipse all other internet uses.

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