Web 2.0 reaches critical mass

I first became familiar with the term “critical mass” in the early 1980s as producer of The 700 Club. Most people don’t realize the extent to which the program and its founder, Pat Robertson, were driven by research. Little was left to chance back in my days there, which is why executives would occasionally gather at an enormous country house at the Homestead in the Virginia mountains to talk about culture and trends.

I remember one such occasion when our marketing director spoke of the rise of the remote control, and what it would mean once it reached 50 percent of the households with TV. Half of consumers is known as “critical mass,” a magical threshold that somehow validates the concept in the world of marketing. We all know what happened with the remote control, but now a new concept has crossed into validity — Web 2.0.

According to an article in Online Media Daily, the latest installment of an ongoing tracking study from Interpublic’s Universal McCann unit reveals that text messaging, blogging and social networking have reached critical mass, with more than half of all adults in the U.S. using one of these to communicate with friends, family, or colleagues on a regular basis. But the big story — and it is huge — is that nearly nine of ten in the age group 18–34 use these, making it the most dominant form of communications for the group.

Yet we wonder why traditional media methods of communicating are dying.

In ten years, this group will be 28–44, and the new 18–34 year old group will be even more socially connected.

Text messaging, meanwhile, proves that mobile media also is becoming a dominant source of personal communications beyond the cell phone, even if mass marketers haven’t yet figured out how to crack the potential of marketing through the medium. The percentage of U.S. adults who say they’ve never sent a text message fell to 41% this year from 49% a year ago. And among 18- to 34-year-olds, it dropped to 22% from 38%.

“Even if mass marketers haven’t yet figured out how to crack the potential of marketing through the medium?” Good grief, let’s hope that never happens. It would be like a phone call being interrupted for a brief commercial announcement.

Hopefully, I’ll be long gone before that ever reaches critical mass.


  1. Terry Wow!
    What amazing numbers.
    Takes a moment to let numbers like that sink in.
    Half of all adults, 9 out of 10 18 to 34 year olds!

    Glad I’ve listened to you about getting out there with them!
    If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!


  1. […] Terry Heaton, one of my favorite bloggers on the digital age, shares those important numbers, in his recent Po Mo Blog. […]

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