Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tagging: You're not it

posted by Andy Leff
Who's doing what online? The answer's in a recent BusinessWeek chart based on Forrester Research about social networking users and usage.

The first takeaway: The age of the medium directly reflects the age of its core audience. The Web is twenty-something years old. So are the vast majority of its users. And I bet if you researched who watched the most television -- a 60-year-old medium -- you'd see older boomers and seniors glued to the tube.

The second takeaway: Collecting ain't all it's cracked up to be. Collectors number less than 20 percent, no matter their age. This means RSS feeds and post-share-vote sites like Digg and Reddit have barely made a dent in the social networking landscape, despite the persistent buzz.

To be honest, I'm not sure why RSS is doing so poorly. It's a useful tool that helps you scan information quickly, and saves you the trouble of revisiting sites for updates -- a terrific innovation for a time-starved era.

Conversely, no wonder tagging services are tanking. They add steps by asking people to post and vote. If folks really want to share interesting stories, they can simply e-mail them, and move on to the next thing.

In any event, being a creator, critic, joiner, or spectator is where it's at in social networking. That's why multi-faceted sites like MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube dominate the market: They offer all these functions to any taker. And in doing so, they grab the repeat visitors, the eyeballs, and the ad revenue.

Keep this in mind as you craft personal or corporate social networking strategies. Put your resources where they will reap the greatest reward -- into building a community, developing content, and inviting participation in the medium that matches your audience.

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