Forrester: Social Media Is Now Mainstream Media

Photo by Matthew Field, via FlickrForrester Research today released its third annual social technographics profile of online adults around the world, and there’s only one possible conclusion: Social media is now in the mainstream – at least the consumption of social media.

Social technographics is Forrester’s lens through which it analyzes what people do with social media. Do they read it or look at it, do they create it, do they share it, or are they doing something else?

In the latest survey, 73% of all US adults are “spectators,” which means they read it, or look at it, at least once a month. Half of adults are “joiners,” which means they participate in a social network like Facebook. This is double the percentage from just two years ago.

Curiously, the number of people who regularly write blogs, upload video and music, or otherwise create content remains at 24%, compared to 18% in 2007. This does not disprove the importance of social media. To the contrary, it ratifies a hypothesis of Clay Shirky’s, which is that inside any collaborative effort, there is always a tiny group of people running the engine.

These findings echo the recent social technographic survey my association conducted on our members, Massachusetts physicians, around the same time that Forrester was in the field with its survey. Even among our members – median age around 50 – social media is a regular part of their existence.

Shel Holz wrote earlier today that NOW is the time to get into the online conversation with your communities. Couldn’t agree more.

But be careful. There is still much wisdom in the notion that you must start small, get it right, attract a following , and then grow.

As Shirky told the ASAE and the Center ‘s annual meeting last week, it’s a lot easier to start small, get good and get bigger, than to start large, be bad at it, and then try to make it better.

I would add, it’s not only easier, but probably a lot faster, too.

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3 thoughts on “Forrester: Social Media Is Now Mainstream Media

  1. The trend is clear: soon, if a person is online, it will almost certainly be consuming some sort of social technologies. With the level of social content being put out there, it will be virtually impossible for anyone online not to be a Spectator. And last but not least, social media is usually thought to be a way to engage younger generations, but the data shows that participation of older generations is considerable and growing at faster pace than that of the younger ones.

    Today a successful digital marketing strategy should always include social media, either in the company’s own site, microsite, etc. or in a social a networking platform such as Facebook, Twitter and the like.

    1. @Christian – Agreed. Your comment brings to mind Charlene Li’s statement that social media will be like the air we breathe – that it will be part of all online interactions, the way electricity is invisble to us today, yet essential to modern life.

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