Hat tip to Joe Trippi who turned me onto a new report from The Nielsen Company that Americans have nearly tripled the amount of time they spend at social networking and blog sites from a year ago.

Per Jon Gibs, vice president, media and agency insights, Nielsen’s online division:

This growth suggests a wholesale change in the way the Internet is used. While video and text content remain central to the Web experience – the desire of online consumers to connect, communicate and share is increasingly driving the medium’s growth.

Those spending money on the net – advertisers are taking note of this trend, big time.

Estimated online advertising spending on the top social network and blogging sites increased 119 percent, from approximately $49 million in August 2008 to approximately $108 million in August 2009 – all despite a recession. Share of estimated spend on these sites has doubled, from 7 percent of online ad spend in 2008 to 15 percent in 2009.

What does this mean for lawyers and law firms? One, don’t think for a minute blogs are a passing fad. Not, only are blogs here to stay, the use of blogs by your target audience is increasing.

Second, a website, combined with directory listings, is not going to give you an effective Internet presence. Americans use of such sites is on the decline. You need to create a compelling Web base to attract your target audience – a blog. And you need to start networking with your target audience of clients, prospective clients, referral sources, and their influencers via social networking sites and blogs.