Photos & Videos as Social Currency: The People Behind Content Creation & Curation

What is the difference between content creators and curators? Further, who are the people behind the rise of photos and videos as social currency? Pew Internet set out to answer these questions in a recent project.

Currently 46 percent of Internet users post original photos and video they’ve created themselves online. Forty-one percent of respondents to their recent survey are curators, taking image and video content they find online and posting to sharing sites.

Fifty-six percent of percent identify as either a content creator or curator and 32 percent do both, according to the Photos and Videos as Social Currency Online report. Who are these people and where are they distributing image and video content?

Content Creators More Likely Young, College-Educated


Content creators working with original photos are more likely to fall into the 18-29 age group than any other, according to Pew’s findings. The older the person, the less likely they are to share their own photos online.

These people are more apt to have at least some college education and are fairly evenly distributed across income brackets. Women are only slightly more likely to fall into this category than men.

Those who create video content follow the same profile, with one exception: there are slightly more in the $30,000-$49,000 income range.

Content Curators More Apt to Be Younger, Female


Women are more likely to curate images and video on the web. This is especially true of the younger crowd, in the 18-29 age range. Annual household income is a fairly even split, except for those making over $75,000 per year, who participate less in content curation.

Curators, like creators, tend to have at least some college education. Men and women are almost equally as likely to curate video content, though women are curators of photos far more often.

Profiles of the Average Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr Users

This was the first time Pew had examined users of these three social content sharing sites, so there are no comparisons to historical data available. Search Engine Watch has recently published global market share information available for these sites, for interested readers.

Who uses Pinterest? Twelve percent of all Internet users said they use this particular social site. The vast majority are women and are more likely to fall in the 18-29 age category than any other. Again, they are apt to have at least some college education.

On Instagram, the split between male and female users is also dead-even and 12 percent of all internet users use this site. The vast majority are younger users, again in the 18-29 age category.

Just 5 percent of Internet users are on Tumblr creating or curating content. They are more likely women than men and heavily skew towards the 18-29 age range. These users are most likely in the $49,000 per year or less income category.

The rise of smartphones has contributed greatly to photo and video sharing, said the report. “Those phones have cameras built into them, making it easy to take and share self-made pictures online,” wrote report authors Lee Rainie, Joanna Brenner, and Kristen Purcell. “It is also safe to say that the rise of social media, especially YouTube and newer services like Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr has made curating activities easier because they are organized for easy image and video-sharing.”

Facebook Use Dwindles as Age, Income Increase


Women are slightly more likely than men to use Facebook, especially in the younger age brackets. Facebook use declines steadily as income increases. More people with no college education use Facebook than users on Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram.

Sixty-six percent of all internet users said they use Facebook, blowing the other networks out of the water.

Twenty percent of respondents said they use LinkedIn, while 16 percent are on Twitter.

Pew Internet wrote of their methodology:

The PSRAI August 2012 Omnibus Week 1 obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,005 adults living in the continental United States. Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (600) and cell phone (405, including 196 without a landline phone). The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI). Interviews were done in English by Princeton Data Source from August 2-5, 2012. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ± 3.7 percentage points.

Download the full report from Pew Internet for further insights on Internet content creators and curators to learn more.

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