Social Media – Participation Rates Much Lower Than We Thought…

Jeremiah Owyang from Forrester has a great post up entitled ” Why Some Don’t Need to Join the Conversation“. The basic premise is that even though social media has been so very hot in the past year or two, actual participation by users remains at a relatively low percentage of overall visitors.

To prove my point, let’s start with data: In most markets, (even youth) there are no bars that span 100% for creators. In fact, 18-24 year olds in United States only are creators 39% of the time. 45-54 year olds in UK only create online content a paltry 6%, although they are critics 11% of the time.

So what does this tell us? Not everyone is part of the online dialog exchange. Not everyone will ever be part of the online conversation.

This point has really been driven home lately to me as I’ve become more directly involved in the Reel-Time Community again. In discourse with a few readers, I’ve mentioned “well, you’ve only been a member for the past two years,” only to be told that they were actually lurkers back well into the last decade. In two distinct cases, that means they waited at least 8 years before registering or posting on a site they use almost daily.

So what’s it all mean? My feeling now is that you’ve got to assume that the active participants on your site are the tip of the iceberg. They’re responsible for helping to make the experience rich and vibrant, but you’ve got to realize that many of your dedicated users may actually never really contribute.

New information? Not hardly…we’ve been discussing the lurker factor on online bulletin boards since pre-internet days.

2 Replies to “Social Media – Participation Rates Much Lower Than We Thought…”

  1. Actually Web Participation rates vary, some are VERY active it depends on the demographic market

    Go check out the profile tool I linked to from my post, you’ll see that people participate in many different ways:

    Creators
    Critics
    Collectors
    Joiners
    Spectators
    and Inactives

  2. Right – I really am just looking at the ratio of Creators/Critics to the other groups. I see creators and critics as the active forces in the site, the “answer people” who provide the real benefit.

    The spectators, inactives, etc. in my experience vastly outnumber the creators and critics, as your numbers suggest, even among the younger users.

    I’m not tempted to start pulling my numbers apart. The only issue is that most of my spectators aren’t registered, so it’s hard to separate them from the unqualified traffic of search engines, spambots, etc.

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