Several blogs have made a big but mistaken deal out of recently released Forrester social media research showing that the percentage of Creators dropped last year. They are confusing a change in the percentage with a change in the absolute numbers.
This confusion began at Forrester itself: Both Jackie Rousseau-Anderson and Augie Ray make vague statements about how Creator growth has "plateaued," implying that a decrease in the percentage of Creators means a decrease in absolute value.
Other blogs have passed on and amplified this confusion:
-- ReadWriteWeb titled their post: "Social Media Users are Creating Less Content"
-- Mashable said: "New research from Forrester suggests that while participation is on the rise, actual content creation may not be."
Two points on this:
First off, none of these posts use data from the actual Forrester report (which you can order here) to address this confusion. What people refer to is a summary chart of the percentages. Like myself, nobody wants to shell out $499 to read it. So none of us know what the real data says.
My own guess is the data shows that—as we might expect—early adopters tend to be Creators, and later adopters tend to be lurkers. As time goes on the percentage of lurkers rises, and the percentage of Creators falls. The really interesting part of this story might actually be about the late adopting lurkers.
--Bill Paarlberg, Editor, The Measurement Standard
The Measurement Standard is a publication of KDPaine & Partners, a company that delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement.