It took way too long, but after Forrester Research conducted a 2008 poll, the group has come to the conclusion that social media activity is now mainstream. Okay, so this news is not as shocking as one would expect, but look at sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and FriendFeed for crying out loud. It is obvious that this stuff has gone mainstream. Regardless, the statistics are interesting to review, and that is exactly what we are going to do.
Reviewing the Stats
Let's jump right into things and take a look at the numbers provided by the polling group:
* 75% of Internet users participate in social media, whereas only 56% participated in 2007.
* 48% of respondents have read a blog at least once.
* 69% identified themselves as active "spectators" of blogs, up from 48% the previous year.
* 37% identified themselves as "critics" that write product reviews, up from 25% the previous year.
* 19% "collect" Internet content through social bookmarking and RSS feeds, up from 12% the previous year.
* 21% publish a personal blog or Web page, a minor increase from 18% the previous year.
The picture is clear: social media usage is increasing. At the very least, these numbers were substantial enough in convincing Forrester Research to label social media activity as mainstream.
Content Creation Slows?
One interesting thing to note is the report's findings that the creation of content has rapidly decreased. The report states that blogging growth slowed to only a 10% increase. However, these statistics don't seem to properly represent the overall picture. Considering that participation in social media often requires the creation of content, is it not likely that the amount of content produced would actually increase rather than slow down?
Perhaps, the focus of the report was limited to traditional blogging in general. But, for example, mini-blogging is a popular activity that seems destined to give way to traditional blogging in the distant future. After all, people tend to create an impressive amount of content through sites like Twitter and Facebook.
The point is that -- regardless of what any single poll can tell us -- content creation as a whole is very likely to be increasing, as an increasing amount of people are connected to the Internet, and it is highly unlikely to slow anytime soon.
Social Media Constantly Changes
Forrester Research pointed out another interesting tidbit of information -- the gap among age groups is significantly declining when it comes to the use of social media. The research group found that 33- to 45-year-olds were increasingly participating with Web-based social media services. Considering youth is the dominant userbase of social media, it is nice to see some of the more mature among us becoming interested in social media.
"The novelty of today's social technologies will eventually wear off, and consumer adoption will plateau as all new media eventually do," Josh Bernoff, a Forrester Research analyst, stated. "But consumers will expect marketers to continue the relationship they've formed over time and still listen to what they have to say."
In the end, social media rolls on as it gains strength in numbers and recognition as a mainstream activity. Considering the drastic improvements within the mobile industry, things might just be getting started.