More Just Like To Watch

Social networks continue to grow at an exponential rate but quantity does not necessarily equate to quality.

Social technographics data from Forrester Research shows a growing disparity in numbers between those that join and those who actually contribute or critique content.

Forrester uses these categories in their analysis: Creators, Conversationalists, Critics, Collectors, Joiners, Spectators and Inactives.

Their report summary highlights that while social technology behaviors are at the centre of many strategy discussions around the globe, the focus should be on the changes in consumers’ adoption of these behaviors. Consumers continue to sign up for and interact on social networking sites, but other social behaviours that require creating content have seen no substantial growth in adoption since 2009. In fact, some behaviors have experienced attrition. In metropolitan China, for example, Joiners saw an increase of 18%, while Creators decreased by 3%.

For example, while a third of US online users watch video on YouTube only 10% of those surveyed actually upload their own videos to the site.

Reviewing the findings, Sarah Perez of ReadWriteWeb points out that “Creators” – those who record videos, post blog entries, write reviews and post comments to articles online – are less active this year than they were in 2009, with shrinking percentages of users in the majority of markets studied.

As can be seen from the chart above, Japan showed any growth in content creation, up two percentage points from the previous year while the others did not.

This is a concern as it would appear only existing Creators are contributing and there is little if any new perspectives being added.  As Forrester’s Jackie Rousseau-Anderson puts it, “A lack of growth in this area translates into a lack of fresh ideas, content and perspectives.”

Critics who provide ratings and reviews are also a declining group, recording flat or diminishing growth globally.

Spectators (the audience for the creators and Critics) are in the ascendant with Australia recording a 3% increase, Europe 4% and Japan 6%.

New users of social networks (“Joiners”) records the biggest growth of any segment, with 8% growth in the U.S., 11% in the E.U., 3% in Japan, 11% in Australia and a whopping 18% in metropolitan China.

Joiners are unlikely to immediately become Creators if they follow previous patterns of use.

So what are we to make of this diminishing ‘gene pool’ of creative talent in the blogosphere?  It represents an strategic option  for businesses with an online presence to become top of mind.

Given the dearth of content creation, the opportunity is to become the definitive source of knowledge and opinion, driving traffic back to a product or service online.

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About thedigitalconsultant

Roger Smith is an international, digital consultant and former British Council Director of Online Operations within the East Asia region. http://thedigitalconsultant.blogspot.com
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