Facebook is the biggest waste of time in our universe – it’s official

According to some new figures by Nielsen the average Facebook user spent seven hours of their precious time on Facebook in January. That sounds like about six hours and thirty minutes too much to me, but then again, I’m not generally stuck for things to do in the evening.

Top 10 Parent Companies/Divisions for January 2010 (U.S., Home and Work) - facebook is the biggest winner in the time wasted in front of your computer
Top 10 Parent Companies/Divisions for January 2010 (U.S., Home and Work) - facebook is the biggest winner in the time wasted in front of your computer

Perhaps even more amazing for Facebook is that this time absolutely dwarfs the time spent on the other top ten platforms made up from their parent companies of:

Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Facebook, AOL, News Corp. Online, InterActiveCorp, Amazon, Wikimedia Foundation and eBay

With the nearest rival being Yahoo at two hours and eight minutes. That is weird. Why would anyone spend any time on Yahoo at all?

And again it shows that time spent on ALL of the other platforms is falling month on month. When you consider in large parts of the world, January was a snowy month, with loads of kids off school, logic would say that all of them would have spent more time online.

So from this I draw two possible conclusions:

1. Facebook has become the dominant web application of its generation. Yes Google is one we use a lot, but clearly not one we connect too and even the launch of their Buzz product may not be enough to make an impact on the strength of Twitter or Facebook.

(I registered for Buzz, but not sure why, what it does or even how to find myself on it! If anyone can help, that would be nice.)

If you own a brand and want to build a future, trying to do so without a sensible Facebook strategy, will ensure you have afar worse chance of succeeding.

2. Kids are learning how to play again. Maybe this is a bit of a stretch on my part, or maybe its just me being hopeful, but I have to conclude that all of the kids in the snowy northern hemisphere chose to go out and play in the snow, rather then veg out in front of their computers. I like this conclusion very much, it’s good for our future.

I would say that we are currently getting more enquiries about social media than any other area of our business and along with iPhone Apps can see that we have many fun hours in front of our computers spending time devising strategies to get kids to engage with brands – or hopefully getting them to engage with brands that live outside.

It’s not about branding – it’s the product

Malcolm Gladwell chooses between Pepsi and Coke?
Malcolm Gladwell chooses between Pepsi and Coke?

I think we can all get a little distracted by brands and branding. Convinced of our own brilliance and self glorifying world that creating a quirky little logo will have the punters pouring in.

Well I’m here to dispel that rumour. It won’t.

A good logo on its own will not win you a single customer. Not one.

A bad one can however, stop you even being considered for calling up.

Bad logos are hateful, every designers worst nightmare and we love the glow from great work. Peer respect is important in almost every industry and we all feel good when our work is rated.

But it’s the product that really matters, branded or not.

If the product works and people feel comfortable with owning in – no proud to own it – no even delighted to give you their custom and eulogise to their friends about how great it is, then you know you have a potential winner.

So here’s one for you. Which search product is better?

Bing – Microsoft’s new baby
Google – the worlds most dominant search provider
Yahoo – yeah, remember them?

Well now you can see, in a blind test. Judging only by the efficacy of the product. How quickly did it give me exactly the answer I was looking for, how efficiently my problem was solved or how painless the experience was.

Try it for yourself with this Blind search tool.

It comes from a very clever man called Michael Kordahi who has his own blog here.

It means the branding is irrelevant and you have to choose on the results.

Now I will add the caveat here that blind testing is not always a faithful predictor of what you are going to do in future. Martin Lindstrom in his book Buyology massively disproved that, but it will make you think.

Now Pepsi also tried this with their own taste tests. For years they proclaimed that people preferred the taste of their brown fizzy water over Coke’s but it still didn’t translate into long lasting sales. (although it did prompt the launching of ‘New Coke’ if Roger Enrico the former Pepsi CEO is to be believed.) Latest thinking shows this is more to do with it being a sweeter drink (which is easier to like in small quantities) than it actually being preferred as a long term brand ‘friend’.

Anyway, try it for yourself. See which you think really works, brand or no brand.

Thanks to Niall Kennedy, for the use of the Malcolm Gladwell (my hero) Pepsi v Coke image