There are six main types or demographics of social media users. These types are usually grouped according to the activities they pursue in Social Media. As you may already know, there are various activities that you pursue online. You can post and publish blog entries, watch videos on YouTube, and comment on content, among others. Unknown to many, these activities are used as indicators to classify the people involved in Social Media.According to a survey conducted in the United States, with over ten thousand people as respondents, the most common activity done online is watching videos (29 percent), followed by reading discussions (28 percent), reading reviews (25 percent), reading blogs (25 percent) and visiting (not maintaining or updating, which occupies another slot in the list) social networking sites (25 percent). What an Internet denizen primarily does is what dictates his standing on the Social Media demographics ladder or hierarchy.
Here are the six demographics of Social Media users SMM World announce. It should be noted, however, that the percentage given here overlap (for example, a person who is part of one hierarchy can also be part of another). Also, this only involves online individuals, since offline individuals, obviously, cannot participate.
The first among the six types is the producer. The producer is on top of the hierarchy, an online consumer who also creates content. It could either be an article, a blog post, a podcast or a video among others; as long as the person creates content regularly (at least once a month, although a number of producers create more content). Of the people involved in Social Media, 18 percent are producers, the second lowest in terms of participants. However, this statistic is only valid in America; countries like South Korea who have more active participants also have more producers. Europe, on the other hand, has fewer producers than America.
Second in line are the commentators, which form 25 percent of the population. As the name suggests, commentators are primarily the people who react, comment, and critique the content posted and published online. They react by posting reviews, rating content such as articles, blog entries, videos, and music. Commentators are responsible for editing wiki entries, since this activity concerns the evaluation of content; they will edit it only when the content is below their standards. Not surprisingly, there are more commentators than producers, a truth that holds true even outside the realms of Social Media. Similarly, more than 30 percent of Japan’s online denizens are commentators, while one out of five European adults are commentators (in America, the figure is one out of four).
Gatherers, the third in the hierarchy, are the fewest in percentage: only 12 percent of all the people involved in Social Media are gatherers. But while they have the least participants, they are often considered as an elite group. They are the ones responsible for collecting URLs and tags on sites like del.icio.us and vote on services such as Digg.com. They also use RSS feeds. All these are essential in the Social Media process, since their actions are responsible for organizing and collecting content, making it easier for the others below the hierarchy to search for information online. For example, someone who searches for a particular item will stumble upon sites collected through del.icio.us, or content with high ratings on digg.com. Gatherers will become more popular in the near future, when gatherer-type activities become more available. In contrast, gatherers are not as popular in Japan, but are more in number in countries like Hong Kong and South Korea. South Korea, of course, is a country with a staggering and amazing number of Internet users, so activities such as these attract more attention and participants.
The fourth in hierarchy, and 25 percent of the total participants, joiners do what their name implies. They join social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, a site that is fast gaining the attention of Internet denizens. They are members in sites like YouTube, where they view videos uploaded by the other members. They maintain their social networking sites actively, and they even participate in the activities of these sites. They use the applications of Facebook, among others. They do not produce any content that others will consume, but they are more active compared to the ones above in the Social Media hierarchy. Again, there are more joiners in South Korea than in America (40 percent, almost more than half compared to the number in America). However, there are fewer joiners in Europe, with almost less than half of the joiners in America.
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The demographic with the most number of participants (48 percent), the observers consume what the producers and the commentators produce. They may or may not be part of the joiners, but they nonetheless are the consumers in this hierarchy. They read the articles and the blog entries, watch the videos, and listen to the music — practically anything the rest produces. Observers have the most number of participants anywhere else in the world, mainly because it takes less effort to be observer than to be a producer, commentator, gatherer, or joiner. In more colloquial terms, they are considered as the “lurkers” in these websites; their presence is not felt, but they are there in any case, making them an important audience just the same. Around 37 percent of European adults are observers. In Japan, a country similar to South Korea, two-thirds of their online adults form the observers, an amazing and overwhelming number which shows how active the online lives of the Japanese are. The same goes for large Chinese cities, where online activity is active.
Considered as the non-participants, inactives form the second largest number in the hierarchy (46 percent). They are also the least important audience since all efforts on them will be futile, since they do not consume or create. There are more inactive participants in Europe than in America, and fewer inactives in South Korea, which form only around 35 percent of their online population.