We are now three weeks into the New Year and that means we get to look back, fondly or distantly, at 2009 and take stock. Again, social media skyrocketed and again Facebook led the way, more than doubling its U.S. audience from 54.5 million users in 2008 to 111.9 million last year. According to internet marketing company comScore, Facebook now accounts for 7% of all time spent online in the U.S. and it jumped up to the No. 4 ranked online property. Twitter was the fastest-growing social networking site, gaining 18.1 million unique visitors last year, up from 2.7 in 2008.

These changes may not be too surprising but what’s also changing is the way in which people are using social media, in particular those who use it for “quick conversations”, posting updates on Twitter and Facebook at least once a week. According to a Wall Street Journal blog, Forrester Research found that one third of web-using adults are these types of networkers, dubbed “conversationalists.” This burgeoning group is mostly women (56%) and isn’t just young people- 70% are 30 and older. The report also said that 70% of adults online are at least “spectators,” listening to podcasts, reading blogs, tweets and forums, though they may not actively participate.

Over two years ago, Forrester blogger Josh Bernoff helped create a social media ladder which placed users on rungs based on the way they interacted with social media platforms. Creators – those who publish blogs, web pages, upload and write – occupied the top rung while spectators and inactives took up the bottom two rungs. Back then, Twitter was in its infancy and hardly the force to be reckoned with that it is today and conversationalists did not constitute a large segment of users. As tweets have flourished, Bernoff noticed that his original ladder omitted Twitter users. His new ladder puts conversationalists near the top of the ladder, illustrating just how influential in the social media world Twitter users can be today.

Here at LMGPR, our team members use social media in a number of ways. We have creators, conversationalists and spectators. What type of user are you?

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