Social Media Grows in Terms of Connection, Not Content

I’ve long thought of the web as being about two things: content and connection. According to research by Forrester, connection is growing, while content creation is flat. I find this rather sad, since the ease of publishing is one of the things I like about the web.

There are posts at GigaOm and at Mashable, each of which provides a table showing that the percentage of web users considered Creators has dropped a little over the past year in both the USA and the EU. Neither post links to a post or page at Forrester. It seems strange that there isn’t a post at the Groundswell blog, since Groundswell seems to have provided the framework for the research.

Update, the following morning: there is now a post at Groundswell.

Social Media in the Inc 500

Between 2007 and 2008, there was a dramatic increase in the use of social media by Inc. 500 firms. That statement raises a lot of questions. Here are some of them, with a few answers thrown in.

  • How do we know this? We can read about the research at the UMass Dartmouth web site, which is where Prof Nora Garim Barnes, one of the researchers, is based. There are also posts about the study at ReadWriteWeb and elsewhere.
  • What is the Inc. 500? It’s an annual list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the US. So it contrasts with the Fortune 500, which comprises the largest public US companies.
  • Does the study report link from social media adoption to performance? No (and the study is IMHO interesting without such a link, which is just as well since it would be hideously difficult to test for).
  • What does it mean by social media anyway? And which of those media are being more widely adopted? That brings us to graph time.

Since we’re focusing on growth here, we might note that the fast-growing social medium is blogging, adoption of which more than doubled in the course of the year. It didn’t grow much faster than, say, social networking, but it’s interesting to see that good “old” blogging is seeing a lot of new adoption. We might also note that BB/message board use grew, even as BBs were overtaken by three other media in terms of adoption.

The reports I’ve seen so far raise many more questions. I look forward to more detailed accounts of the research.