Asian Social Media Users Create; Western Users Consume [STUDY]

Social media users in metropolitan China and India are much more apt to be “creators” on the platforms than their Western counterparts, according to a new report.

Forrester Research polled about 100,000 consumers in Asia, Latin America and North America in the second and third quarters of 2011, and the results show that people in emerging markets are often enthusiastic adopters of social media. Among those who have Internet access, 93% report using social media once or more a month vs. 49% in the seven European countries in the study — the U.K., France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Italy.

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Consumers in emerging markets also tend to be consumers rather than creators, according to the report. In fact, 80% of Indians and 76% of Chinese fit that description, which Forrester defines as someone who publishes a blog or a website, uploads video and/or music and/or writes and posts stories once or more a month. In the U.S., the figure is 24% while in Europe it was 23%.

Reineke Reitsma, vp and research director at Forrester, says the differences are less attributable to differences in national character than respondents’ age and relative positions on the adoption curve. Overall, the Chinese and Indian people polled were younger than their U.S and European counterparts. (They were also urban — all of them were based in major cities.)

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But age is only part of the equation: “In China, Brazil, even Spain instead of using email or IM people immediately go to social networking,” says Reitsma.

In comparison, consumers in mature markets such as the U.S. and Europe are using social media less for communicating than for finding and processing information. About 70% of consumers in the U.S. and Canada are deemed “spectators” in the study, meaning that they merely consume social content. About one third of people in those regions are “critics” who respond to existing social content.

One country that emerges as distinctly different in the survey is Japan, which indexes lower on social media usage than everyone else. Just 28% of Japanese visit a social networking site once or more a month and only 13% visit Facebook. Reitsma says that Japanese consumers prefer anonymity, which is why Twitter and mixi are more popular.

What do you think? Are you a creator or a consumer of social media content? Sound off in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, kizilkayaphotos

This story originally published on Mashable here.

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