The “Groundswell” Revolution – Forrester Shows Rapid Increase in Social Media Participation

Josh Bernoff and his social media Groundswell colleagues at Forrester have just released their 2008 Social Technographics data – and the results show that there is a rapid increase in participation in all types of customers and across all age ranges.

Forrester’s research has identified 6 categories of users:

  • Creators – people who blog, upload videos, write article and post them
  • Critics – people who post ratings, comment on blogs, contribute to online forums
  • Collectors – people who use RSS feeds, vote for website content, tag photos and webpages
  • Joiners – people who maintain a profile and visit social networking sites
  • Spectators – people who read blogs, listen to podcasts, watch video, and read online forums
  • Inactives – people who do none of the above

Forrester counts someone in a group if they do one of the activities at least monthly and their ladder is more fully explained in this short presentation.

As shown below, all categories showed increases from 2007 to 2008 except for the Inactives which went from 44% to 25% – a 43% decline.  This is one of the most telling statistics from the research as it shows that people are getting off the couch and are starting to participate at least as spectators.  Even though the Creators segment showed the slowest growth, it did show some pretty impressive gains especially as these users are the most committed social media advocates.

2007 vs. 2008 US Social Technographic Profile - Courtesy of Forrester

2007 vs. 2008 US Social Technographic Profile - Courtesy of Forrester

Forrester also analyzed the statistics on an age basis.  While Forrester didn’ disclose all of the age-related statistics, they did identify that the growth in social media consumption is coming from the 35-44 year old crowd especially on the Spectators and Joiners rungs of their ‘ladder’.

Forrester has also updated their interactive social profile tool that lets you examine the data by age range and country.  The complete report (The Growth of Social Technology Adoption) is available from Forrester for $279.

What does it all mean?  It means that social media and content is going mainstream. And it means that it will be increasingly more difficult for companies to ignore the social media phenomena.


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