Social Media continues to create lots of conversations relative to when and how businesses will engage in the conversations. As you read some blogs there are people who believe that Social Media hasn’t gone mainstream while others believe it has already gone mainstream. While there are lots of opinions there is also facts to consider.
The company’s polling indicates 2008 has marked significant growth for social media, with a decided majority of users now taking part. A consumer poll done in the second quarter found that 75 percent of Internet users participate in some form of social media, up from 56 percent in 2007.
Adoption rates vary by the type of activity. For example, Forrester found large growth in participation among those reading blogs and writing product reviews. “Spectator” rates jumped from 48 percent to 69 percent. Likewise, those identifying themselves as “critics” increased from 25 percent to 37 percent.
Yet other areas saw more modest increases. Maintaining RSS feeds and tagging Internet content remain far from the norm. Just 19 percent fell into that “collector” category, up from 12 percent a year ago.
Rates of content creation have slowed considerably. Those publishing a blog or personal Web page saw incremental growth: 21 percent versus 18 percent. In fact, blogging grew just 10 percent, well behind the 39 percent growth in starting a social network profile. Still, blogs remain a highly popular form of social media: 48 percent of respondents said they have read one, a nearly 50 percent increase from 2007.
In another sign that social media has gone mainstream, Forrester found the participation gap narrowing among age groups, though younger demographics still rate higher. Forrester found 35-44-year-olds increasingly entered the ranks of critics, joiners and spectators.
Where Is Your Business?
While the data from the Forrester reports reflects “people’s” participation in social media there is still a significant cap in businesses using and participating in social media. Afterall, businesses are organizations of people and for businesses to thrive they need to be present in the markets of people. Yet business leaders have historically expected the people to follow them rather than they follow the people. Consider common marketing tactics of the past. Each aimed at bringing people to the business through tricks of the trade, promises and slick advertising. Now the people are in charge and effectively bringing business to them. Equipped with conversational rivers of influence, the people have created a reversal in the attention process.
Instead of your business seeking to get people’s attention the people are now getting your attention. How will you respond? Will your response spark an engaging conversation or create a negative reaction from the people. Will your response reflect your ability to listen and understand what the people are saying? What they care about? If your response is not real then don’t be surprised how unreal the people can be.
What say you?