NEWS21 July 2014

US social media use evolving

News North America

US — social media use in the US is changing as a result of a shift from ‘lean-back’ to ‘lean-forward’ behaviour, according to new research.

Lean-back behaviour has been characterised as more passive, and associated with longer attention spans, while lean-forward behaviour is associated with higher levels of engagement, active scanning for content, and higher levels of purpose.

The general growth of lean-forward behaviour has led to a similar shift in the way Americans are using social media – fuelled by smartphone usage and exemplified by multiscreening – according to new paper from media agency network UM: Cracking the social code: Aligning consumers’ need states to marketing objectives.

The paper was based on data from 4,000 active US web users. Alongside the apparent increase in activity, the paper also indicated a heightened emphasis on privacy: two thirds of UM’s American panel were worried about their online persona being public.

“While this may seem like a disconnect from the very idea of a social network, it proves there are nuances in what consumers believe is publicly fair game compared to what they actively would like to share,” said authors Kevin Moeller and Heather O’Shea.

Another finding was the apparent increased uptake in newer or smaller social networks reflecting specific passions and interests.

“While Facebook remains the main internet presence for audiences to connect with one another, niche social networks are becoming a driving force in the growth of the social sphere,” the authors added.