Pew study highlights photo and video sharing explosion

Technology is making it increasingly easy to create and curate visual content, but which age groups are making the most of it?

A new study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project looks at habits of curators and creators of photos and videos online. Pew’s thesis is that photos and videos have become key social currencies online, and the study tends to support that.

From Aug. 2-5, Pew conducted a phone survey of 1,005 adults ages 18 and older, asking them questions about their photo and video habits on social media, and about the social media platforms on which they participate.

The study looked at photo- and video-sharing habits of creators and curators on Facebook, Linkedin, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. For the first time ever, the Pew Internet and American Life project asked questions about Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr, which also means there are no comparable statistics for review.

Given the rise of smartphones with cameras built into them as well as the growth of image-sharing services such as Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr, the percentage of respondents who are photo and video creators is relatively large.

However, according to Forrester’s 2011 Social Technographics study, only 24 percent of Internet users are considered “creators” of Internet content, and Forrester’s definition of a creator is much broader than someone who posts original photos and videos.

Forrester’s Social Technographics ladder is one of the long-held global standards of social media use classification. My conclusion: What a difference a year of Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram growth can make!

A few highlights from the report:

  • Facebook is by far the most popular social media service (66 percent of all Internet users), followed by LinkedIn (20 percent), Twitter (16 percent), Instagram (12 percent), Pinterest (12 percent), and Tumblr (5 percent). This is clearly illustrated in the graphic below, derived from the Pew Internet study, and created by Mediabistro.

  • Significantly more people prefer to create and share still images compared with videos. Some 45 percent of Internet users create and share images; only 18 percent of users create and share video.
  • The dominance of the 18-29 age bracket. There are more curators and creators ages 18-29 than in any other age demographic; 63 percent of them are curators, and 69 percent are creators.
  • More specifically, 67 percent of those who create and post images online are ages 18-29 , while 50 percent of those ages 30-49 do the same, 28 percent of those ages 50-64, and 26 percent of those 65 or older.
  • Video creators dominate the 18-29 age demographic . Some 33 percent of those ages 18-29 create and share video, compared with 18 percent of those ages 30-49, and 8 percent of those over age 50.
  • Young adults—more than any other age demographic—use Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter. The dominant age group for all three services is ages 18-29. There is slightly more penetration of the 18-29 age demographic on Facebook, but also 72 percent of the 30-49 age group uses Facebook. Adults ages 30-64 use Linkedin far more than do those ages 18-29 or people over age 65.

Organizations are far more likely to receive photos and videos from those ages 18-29 during any online crowdsourcing campaign or solicitation. Adults in all age groups are far more likely to create still images than videos. In addition, if your audience is older, you will find a relatively small percentage of participants over age 50 in any user-generated image content campaign.

The surprise to me is how dominant Twitter is among young adults; there is much deeper Twitter use in the 18-29 demographic than in any other age group. There’s a great opportunity to engage young adults on Twitter.

My expectation is that these trends will continue to grow with rising smartphone adoption, and with the proliferation of image curation and creation services such as Pinterest and Instagram.

The takeaway for any organization is how you will use the emergence of image and video curators and creators, along with what you know about who they are, to nurture a connection to your cause, organization, and conversation online

Debra Askanase is the CEO of Community Organizer 2.0, where a version of the article originally ran. (Image via)

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