The Social Media Engagement Continuum – Apparently

An attempt to make sense of something that isn't actually happening?

An attempt to make sense of something that isn't actually happening?

Here’s an attempt to describe and segment the social media ‘journey of discovery’ (if you will). Clearly, a great deal of thought has gone into it and, when I happened upon it, I could not but be impressed by the sheer quantity of commentary (from people with idents like @bigweevil and @hellbelly) on the diagram and accompanying explanation. There are enormous amounts of people out there who think this work is very important. Unfortunately, I suspect it’s because, in creating categories of social media user, it gives them an identity and legitimises the hours they spend staring at their screens and engaging in exchanges with other like-minded souls.

You see, there aren’t really enormous amounts of people out there. Millions, yes (of users of social media) but in the great scheme of things, that’s not very many. And we also know (for a fact, folks) that 90% of Tweets are generated by 10% of Twitterers. The point being that of those millions of users of social media, a good whack aren’t actually using it at all. They signed up because it was fashionable, couldn’t figure it out or got bored with the spamphish, and just drifted away.

Thus, it is slightly presumptuous, and every so slightly pointless, to divide the world into types of social media user, according to where they are on their social media journey. I would suggest that the majority of people are firmly in category one and, actually, don’t really give a hoot about moving along the scale.

The lie is further given to this when you look at the Immersed category, which contains people who are utilising four or five different social media for work and enjoyment. Shoot me down if you like, but I would guess that the amount of people who are a) aware of four or five social media and b) capable of using them could probably be easily entertained in a small garden shed.

The other thing that this hierarchy fails to incorporate or acknowledge is the companies/brands/organisations that are desperately attempting to harness social media for their own ends – doing so not because they are interested in what social media does per se, but because they are interested in selling more stuff in whatever way possible. It also fails to take into account the natural lifespan of a social network (Friends Reunited, anyone? Bebo?).

No matter how many users (and actually, the more users, the more likely it is to happen) and how careful, diligent and well-behaved they are, a network has a cycle. It will evolve, mature, become decadent and wither – a succesful network will attract the many-too-many, those at point one in the hierarchy, who don’t care about it, don’t want to progress within it or any other social medium and will, sooner or later, kill it off.

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