Forrester has published a year-on-year comparison on the behavior of social network users. Are the finding a cause for concern or just a reflection of what happens when early adopters are joined by the rest of us?.
Forrester introduced Social Technographics in 2007 as a way of characterising how people interact with social technologies. They grouped consumers into six different categories of participation using a ladder to depict a hierarchy in which the higher end of the ladder indicates a higher level of participation.
So, the top rung of the ladder, Creators, is for those who contribute fresh content by way of web pages, blogs and videos uploaded to YouTube and similar at least once per month and the bottom one is for Internet users who don't engage in anyway with social networking.
For the latest 2010 data a new rung has been added as the second level - Conversationalists for those who post status updates to sites such as Facebook or post tweets on Twitter at least once per week. Data is only available for the US and Europe and 31% of online adults are categorised as Conversationalists.
For the other six categories the latest Forrester report has data for 2009 and 20101 for five regions, US, Europe, Metropolitan China, Japan and Austrailia and the statistic that is attrating the most attention is that, with the exception on Japan, the proportion of Creators has declined.
Jackie Rousseau-Anderson, co-author of the report, is quoted as saying:
"Creators are the elite group who power social content. A lack of growth in this area translates into a lack of fresh ideas, content and perspectives."
Using YouTube as an example, she says that one third of U.S. consumers regularly watch user-generated videos on sites like YouTube, but only 10% say they've uploaded videos to public sites and concludes that it seems that interest in becoming a creator of content has plateaued.
However, as this table shows the decline is only of the order of a percentage point and an equally interesting statistic is that the proportion of joiners has risen.
Jackie's blog post has a better interpreation of the data:
The initial wave of consumers using social technologies in the US has halted.
In other words the efforts of early adopters are now being increasingly diluted by the rest. What will be interesting to follow in the future will be if the European pattern, which has far more Inactives and far fewer proactives (the top three rungs) than the other regions will move more into line with the US. After all it starts out with the same proportion of Conversationalists.
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