Social media, the new TV channel

Only 23% of U.S. participants on social networks describe themselves as “creators” of content, according to a new global study by Forrester Research. Less than a third engage in conversation, and more than two-thirds watch passively. GigaOM notes this should be no surprise, since another recent study by Harvard found that “90% of the content on Twitter is created by 10% of the users.”

The implication is that as social media goes mainstream (Facebook is now the No. 3 website among U.S. adults age 45-54), more users are spending more time watching and less submitting. This may be good news for advertisers who seek to use social channels as a push medium for their message, and not-so-good news for those who believe everyone wants to actively engage in a two-way conversation with their brand.

3 thoughts on “Social media, the new TV channel

  1. Ben,

    I think there is a still relatively untouched middle ground here. Lets think about a college class as an analogy for social media. The instructor “pushes” out content but then opens up for questions/discussion. Not everyone in the room actively participates but they get the opportunity to hear more than one point of view to help them develop their views on the presented subject.

    I believe a brand should plan for social media much like a magazine. At the beginning of each year they should map out the topics that they feel are in line with achieving their strategic objectives. They also augment this with topics that may come up throughout the year as well. This allows them to push some content while using other content that allows the brand to join in relevant discussions. The key is to understand the audience you are speaking with.

    I think the problem with some agencies and companies is their grasp of how social media works. I refer to it as the “field of dreams syndrome.” If you build it they come. Think about print ads that have a twitter and Facebook logo. Really…you’re that arrogant your not going to give me your username?? Would we ever meet someone and ask them to call us without giving them our phone number?

    I admit I do not tweet a large number of messages but I follow streams and read links to articles that interest me. I join the conversation only when I have something I want to contribute.

    The true challenge is getting agencies and companies to fill this middle ground. We need to approach social media like the best college instructor we had…the one who got the most introverted person in the room to participate and walk away feeling good about himself.

    Which instructors do you remember as being the best?? Agencies need to become that college professor. If they did, this would be an opportunity to help open doors for business with existing clients and new clients. They just need to be ready to take a fresh approach which many aren’t receptive to doing.


  2. This focuses on all web users, I believe, not on the younger generation. Also, there are degrees of content creation. (Huff Post agreed with you this week, BTW.) What is commenting? Or posting mini blogs? Or Lines are blurring. What appears undeniable is that there is a degree of participation that is enabled by technology, but driven by a new generation of uers’ desire to be part of the media.

  3. I think this is right on. In April I wrote a scathing blogpost based on Facebooks Stats Page. They have since scrubbed the damning evidence that most people do nothing on their network. At the time they claimed unique 200mil log ins per day. They also said 35mil updated their status and there was 60mil comments/likes of the status updates. If each person taking any action only did 1, then 1 of 2 people took no action. And we all know that plenty of people do more than 1 action. My guess was 30-40mil of 200mil doing anything on the site.

    Other stats since scrubbed. Average user uploaded 7 photos a month, liked 3 Fan Pages per month, and were invited to less than 3 events.

    Obviously this info hurts the IPO effort big time since instead of selling connectivity among people they are selling an Ad Based Exploitation of the User Base Business Model. Would you as a marketer view this info as a positive place to market?

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