Social Media Users

[Source]: Forrester Global Social Technographics Update 2011

Research on Social Media Users

Currently 86% of online US adults and 79% of European online adults engage with social media. [Source]. Given the rise of blogging and social networks, Forrester researchers identified some unique traits about how social media users create, view, and interact with content online starting in 2006.

They went on to identify various characteristics of different groups by the names: Creators, Critics, Collectors, Joiners, Spectators, and Inactives. These are grouped in the above diagram as a ladder, with the highest level of engagement being at the top with the Creators.

From the book, Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies

  1. Creators sit at the top and at least once a month publish a blog or article online, maintain a Web page, or upload videos to YouTube, or upload audio/music, write articles or stories and post them. These are wired, techy people who feel the itch to create digital content to share with others. They use platforms like Blogger, WordPress, and Tumblr.
  2. Conversationalists, while not quite as engaged, update their status on a social networking site and post updates on Twitter. These are individuals who update Facebook, LinkedIn, or tweet.
  3. Critics post ratings/reviews of products or services, comment on someone else’s blog, contribute to online forums, and will add/edit articles in a wiki. These are the individuals we rely on so heavily when trying to ascertain whether a product or service is any good, in absence of a reliable word of mouth source. They’ll use Google Reviews, Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Foursquare.
  4. Collectors use RSS feeds, vote for websites online, add “tags” to web pages or photos. These individuals might curate content on Digg or StumbleUpon. They will tag friends on Facebook or Flickr. They use a service like Flipbook or Google Reader to consume site updates via RSS.
  5. Joiners maintain a profile on a social networking site and visit social networking sites. These are the casual participants that are on these networks and swing by from time to time.
  6. Spectators make up the bulk with roughly 3 out of 4 of online Americans and Europeans falling into this category. They read blogs, listen to podcasts, watch video from other users, read online forums, read customer ratings/reviews, and read tweets. They might check Facebook on a daily basis but they do not necessarily post content for others in their network to observe.
  7. Inactives have been shrinking since the study began. They do not participate in any of the above activities.

Rogers Adoption Curves and Social Media Users

The research shows that consumers are mostly Spectators online in the U.S. and Europe. The Early and Late Majority make up roughly 68% and this seems to map over to the social media user as well.

Much like we saw with Innovators and Early Adopters, not everyone can be first. While these typically make up around 16% of the curve, with Creators it seems to be continually climbing and currently sits at 24%. As the ease of publishing and creating digital content gets better and better, watch for Creators to grow. We would most likely get a better view if we asked about specific technology platforms. For example, how many are publishing on Pinterest or Tumblr?

Like we saw with Laggards, the same can be true of Inactives.

And just like the adoption curve, we can all bounce back and forth based on different needs we are trying to satisfy.

Next up, we’ll look at a handy tool for flushing out our user persona based on all this data.