OMG! UM Finds Web 2.0 Breeding Consumers 2.0, Social Media Attains Critical Mass
"Although age is the driving force behind usage patterns of these technologies, it is clear that a fundamental shift has taken place in all of our lives about what it means to communicate in the 21st Century," the agency says in a new white paper based on the research.
And it's not just newer forms of Web-based communications that people are relying more on. Even "old school" methods such as email and instant messaging are continuing to displace other forms of analog communication. The percentage of U.S. adults who said they now rely on instant messaging, for example, rose to 22% this year from just 9% in 2007. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, IM dependant crowd grew to 21% from 14% a year ago.
Text messaging, meanwhile, proves that mobile media also is becoming a dominant source of personal communications beyond the cell phone, even if mass marketers haven't yet figured out how to crack the potential of marketing through the medium. The percentage of U.S. adults who say they've never sent a text message fell to 41% this year from 49% a year ago. And among 18- to 34-year-olds, it dropped to 22% from 38%.
"We're definitely seeing continual shifts," says Graeme Hutton, senior vice president-director of consumer insights at UM, and the chief curator of the agency's highly regarded Media in Mind research. "The great unwashed - those people who have never sent a text message - is getting smaller all the time."
One of the more fascinating parts of the UM research is the speed with which the average American is becoming a self-publisher on the Internet. One out of 10 U.S. adults now publish blogs, up from just 5% a year ago. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, the rate is twice that, with one out of five publishing blogs, up from 10% a year ago.
And who's reading all this blog materials? Well, according to UM, everyone. The percentage of Americans of all demographic groups who say they now read a blog everyday soared between 2007 and 2008, and UM's Hutton attributed this to the rapid rise of another Web 2.0 platform: social networks.
"We think that's do to the increased use of social networking, and blogs are an integral part of using them," he explains. "Two years ago, asking people about blogs, people were shaking their heads. I think now it's taking off because social networks are taking off. RSS feeds, which make reading blogs easier, have become an integral part of the way people communicate and exchange content. People may have been doing it before, but may not have realized it. Now they're recognizing it for what it is."
Needless to say, UM found a skyrocketing correlation among people who say they regularly visit social networking sites.