How Do People Participate in Social Media? Who Controls The Conversation?

As we become a conversation economy shaped by the social networks we belong to, it’s important to really understand how conversations truly work. In the INdata page of the latest IN, we are beginning to take the next step to show how different demographic age groups participate in social media in different ways . The fact is that use of social media is soaring—up 668% over the past year, but only 12% of total web traffic is involved in it.

Just as important, INdata shows that there are 6 types of social media participatants—Creators who publish web pages, blog and upload videos; Critics who comment on blogts and post reviews and comments; Collectors who use RSS to tag and gather information; Joiners who use social networking sites; Spectators who watch, read and listen; and Inactives, folks who are online but don’t participate in social media yet.

The demographics are very interesting. Each slice of the population participates differently in social media. Some 34% of online users aged 12-17 still do not participate in social media. 42% of people 27-49 online do not. Some 5% of seniors—62 plus—are social media creators (compareed to 34% for young teens 12 to 17. That strikes me as surprisingly high. Only 7% of boomers are creators.

The point is that we have to go beyond the hype of technology and get to the groups of people using social media to really understand what they want out of conversations if you want to talk to them. This is as true for managers as politicians, journalists as clergy.

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