Jackie Rousseau-Anderson of Forrester has a run down of the 2010 update of their Social Technographics data. In short, they poll U.S. consumers based on their online social activity and then place them into categories. These categories are:

  • Creators: Publish a blog, publish your own web pages, upload video you created, upload audio/music you created and/or write articles or stories and post them.
  • Conversationalists: Update a status on a social networking site and/or post updates on Twitter.
  • Critics: Post ratings/reviews of products or services, comment on someone else’s blog, contribute to online forums and/or contribute to/edit articles in a wiki.
  • Collectors: Use RSS feeds, “vote” for websites online and/or add “tags” to web pages or photos.
  • Joiners: Maintain profile on a social networking site and/or visit social networking sites.
  • Spectators: Read blogs, listen to podcasts, watch video from other users, read online forums and/or read customer ratings/reviews.
  • Inactives: none of the above.

The same person can count in multiple categories. For example, people who both use RSS feels and read online forums would count into both of those categories. The percentages indicate what percentage of the overall total engages in those specified activities. The only category that is exclusive is Inactives.

This may be the first time I’ve talked about this data here, but I have been aware of previous iterations and it is very interesting. I don’t know that I appreciate the categorization of forum based activities. If you post 140 character bursts on Twitter, you are a “conversationlist.” But, if you post on forums, you are a “critic.” That said, it’s not that important.

I found the update through Jay Baer, who asks the question “is Facebook making us stupid?” Jay compares previous data to the current study; namely that from 2009 to 2010. He found that there were declines in every category except for Joiners and Inactives (Conversationalists is a new one).

Critics fell from 37% to 33%. In 2008, it was 37% and in 2007, 25%. Meanwhile, Spectators fell from 73% to 68%. In 2008 and 2007, it was 69% and 48%, respectively.

So, according to the data, forum participation and reading fell, generally speaking. But, then again, so did blog publishing, website publishing, uploading videos, writing articles, posting ratings/reviews of products or sources, reading blogs and a number of other things.

I don’t know that the data worries me, from a forum perspective. The line between social networking site and forum/online community is likely blurred for some (including some who took the survey) and social networking sites just present opportunities for community builders to reach an audience and build traffic.