Are Content Creators on the Wane?

Two bloggersThose wonderful numbers guys at Forrester Research — the best source of social media information and studies, in my opinion — have been at it again. PC World lays out some of the numbers presented in the Forrester’s latest Social Technographics report:

Social media ‘creators,’ which Forrester defines as users who have a blog, upload videos and music and write articles, shrunk from 24 percent of the U.S. online population in 2009 to 23 percent in the second quarter of this year, according to data from the report.

‘Critics,’ those who rate and review products, post comments on others’ blogs, participate in discussion forums and collaborate on wikis, dropped from 37 percent to 33 percent.

Likewise, ‘collectors,’ Internet users who subscribe to syndicated feeds, tag Web pages and photos and in general organize content for the benefit of other users, fell from 21 percent to 19 percent, Forrester said.

The majority of growth seems to have been amongst the “joiners” and the “conversationalists” — those new to social media and those who communicate through short messages such as Twitter or Facebook status updates. As a content creator myself, both professionally and as a hobby, I find this very interesting. It is, of course, easier to share links to content online than it is to create something of quality. I’ve noticed this in my own behavior. Since the advent of Twitter and Facebook’s recent explosive growth, I often find myself far more likely to use those than the traditional blog outlets. As a result, my posting on non-client blogs has declined over the past few years.

Ramon Nuez of The Huffington Post hits on one good reason for this:

Those individuals that were creating content because it was fun — quickly come to realize that there is a great deal of work that goes into creating good content. You couple that with the lack of revenue and you quickly begin to see why the ranks of content creators has thinned out.

This is, in my experience, one of the great causes of what I call “blogger burnout.” While some of us manage to push through and continue to put new content online, for others, many hours + lots of work + no financial return = burnout. Unless it is something the person is very passionate about, or that person is one of the few who have managed to effectively monetize their efforts.

Nuez speculates on where this is going:

What does this mean for the future of social media — as the dust settles we will be left with a population of prosumers. These are individuals that are not only producing quality content — like Soldier Knows Best — but have found multiple avenues to monetize their digital properties.

I’m inclined to agree. The “prosumers” will become a new link in the content chain, and we will see more plateauing amongst other categories of users. On a personal note, I don’t intend to slow down. One reason I love what I do is because I love creating. How about you? Have you found yourself more likely to share than to create over this past year or two? Please share your thoughts.

Source: “Where Have All the Content Creators Gone?,” The Huffington Post, 09/29/10
Source: “Forrester: Social Media Content Creators Down in U.S.,” PC World, 09/28/10
Source: “Introducing The New Social Technographics,” Forrester Research, 09/01/10
Image by Mike Licht, used under its Creative Commons license.

About George Williams

George "Loki" Williams is the community and brand manager for award wining game company Savage Mojo, Ltd. and the owner of SocialGumbo, LLC, an online consultancy specializing in Web content and online communications. Loki has produced content for clients including the Open Society Institute, National Association of Broadcasters, Kobold Press, and Kaiser Permanente. His work has been seen or written about in The New York Times, The BBC, Air America, The Gambit Weekly, and, among others.


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  1. George-

    Here’s what keeps showing up for me. Blogging is about inspiration and passion. Some days or weeks I have nothing to say. Other days, 3-4 topics leap from my keyboard.

    In some blogs, I see the content as “forced”, where the writer is trying to fill their daily quota. I think this comes from trying to make a living at it. Probably not the way to go for most folks.

  2. Loki says:

    Hey Scott, sorry about the tardy reply, I was taking a few days off.

    I think you are dead right about the forced feeling that you get from some blogs. It is a hard line to tow, especially once you have been at it awhile.

    One of the things that I do is keep a Google Doc open and paste URLs and ideas into it. This is what I draw from for stories and posts. Take advantage of the passion while you are feeling it and write several, then space them out over a few days. This not only helps you get ahead, but also keeps things more vital since you’re writing while the juices are flowing as it were.

    I would also add that just like “regular” writing, not everyone can write for the web. Those who do refine their art and practice in the same way that novelists and journalists do: by doing it. The real trick is to weed out the stuff that lacks vitality before it makes it to the reader’s screen.