Forrester Research recently released a 2010 update to its Social Techno graphics® data that analyses the social behaviours of global Internet users.
For the first time, the percentage of U.S. consumers engaged in certain social behaviour actually went down, not up. Is the bloom off the rose? Is this the long-promised social media backlash?
Overall, the usage of social media among U.S. with internet access decreased from 82% to 81%. This is certainly not a statistically meaningful atrophy, but it paints a picture of a plateauing social Web, where the remaining holdouts are simply not going to jump on board. Forrester analyst Augie Ray made a case for this plateau on his blog recently.
10% of country doesn’t have a satellite TV or cable connection, many people under the age of 45 don’t have a smartphone. So, I don’t see a decrease of 1% as alarming for overall social media but rather I assume that social media market is going officially mature, and the rampant growth of the past three years may be a thing of the past, like Paula Abdul’s career.
Social Behaviours Are Shifting
The more we search, the more disturbing result we find in social behaviours. The no. of people who work as creator i.e. who write blogs, who upload video, critics, collectors and spectators; all went down by 3% to 5%. This means that Americans who are engaged in every social media activity was reduced in past few years.
Except for one activity.
The percentage of Americans who are joiners in social network has increased from 51% to 59% and that is a huge change compared to rest of the behaviours examined.
The most striking finding in research was the fact that the no. of social net-workers is almost as large as no. of video watchers and blog readers. (59% to 68%).
Is Facebook Making Us Stupid?
Why to read a blog, when we can just look at headline or first few sentences in a Facebook update? Why to watch video on YouTube, even if we know that the best one will be posted on Facebook? Why to search or review about businesses at Yelp.com when you can just see the number of likes and what place your friends prefer?
Our Facebook addiction is threatening the core sociability and widespread content consumption, sharing, and curation behaviours that gave it succor in the early days.
Certainly, there are still PLENTY of people watching YouTube, reading blogs, and Digging their hearts out. But this trend of all social participation declining – except for one specific type – disturbs and frightens me.