If you've been itching to understand how consumers use social media, Nielsen's 2012 social media report is full of obvious (and perhaps not-so-obvious) insights.

While Nielsen's report discovered that overall social media use was at an all-time high, it also delved into the habits and motivations of social media users, by polling users and viewing social media metrics between July 2011 and July 2012.

To start, the report found that 63% of men and women primarily used social networking sites to stay connected with someone they already knew. And while 50% of people said that they used social media to connect with the friend-of-a-friend, only 6% of people said that they used social media to connect with any stranger that sent them a friend request.

As for social media's emotional effects, a majority of users said they felt feelings of optimism after using a social site. A whopping 76% of users said they felt "positive" when connecting on social media, while only 21% revealed that they felt "negative." When asked to describe the specific feelings experienced while on social media, users primarily responded with "connected, informed, amused," and "excited."

Those surveyed said they accessed social media via desktop computer, though usage of other devices has grown. Tablets and cell phones both saw an increase in users accessing social media. 

"People are connecting through more mobile devices … (and) they are also increasing their engagement with social media regardless of what device they are accessing," Deirdre Bannon, Nielsen's social media practice lead, told USA Today.

And a special note to employers: The study also found that 51% of 25-34 year-olds used social media while in the office.

"Social media is truly everywhere in people's lives," Bannon further told the newspaper. "It is so ingrained and has touched every facet of everything we do all day long."