Social Network Content Creation Wanes, While Participation Continues To Grow

New research from Forrester indicates that while participation in social network services is on the rise, actual content creation is lagging behind. In the past year, their research shows no measurable growth in the Creators category (those who publish a blog, update Web pages, upload user-generated video, or write and post content), while in the Joiners category (those that join social networks) most countries surveyed saw significant increases, including the U.S., which jumped from 51% to 59% between 2009 and 2010.

Forrester’s Social Technographics Profile analyzes consumer social technology behaviors and trends on an annual basis. Forrester classifies social network users by type: Creators, Conversationalists, Critics, Collectors, Joiners, Spectators and Inactives. In the U.S., the Creator audience has actually dipped a percentage point from 24% in 2009 to 23% in 2010. Japan was the only country measured to show a rise in Creators, growing from 34% to 36% in the past year.

Mashable suggests that “when it comes to social media, it would seem then that the average user feels most at home taking more passive actions, and that a majority of content creation is primarily limited to the existing content creator crowd.” As Forrester reports, “One-third of online consumers in the U.S. regularly watch user-generated videos on sites like YouTube. But only 10% of U.S. online consumers upload videos they’ve created to public sites.”

In addition, the percentage of Critics (those who post ratings and reviews, comment on various blogs, and contribute to online forums) in the U.S. declined 4 points in 2010 to 33%, from 37% in 2009. This trend extends worldwide; the percentage of Critics also remained flat or declined in Europe and metropolitan China, as reported by MediaPost.

This lack of new Critics in most markets may be a cause for concern, as customers continually find peer ratings and reviews (posted by Critics) helpful and influential in their decision-making process. Forrester reported that in the travel industry, 92% of leisure travelers are more likely to book a hotel if it has a five-star rating, yet only 6% of guests post a review of their recent hotel stay.

So while the percentage of Creators and Critics either dropped or plateaued in most markets, the percentage of Spectators in these markets (who demand the content posted by Creators and Critics) has increased.

For the Q210 US Technographics Online Benchmark Study Forrester conducted an online survey fielded in April 2010 of 26,913 US online users age 18 to 88, as reported by

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