Pew released a study about Creation, Curation, Instagram, and Snapchat yesterday which reviewed the online behavior of 1,000 sampled adults. Pew wanted to learn what percentage of Internet users we’re posting original photos and videos and what percentage were sharing the content of others.

More than half of people surveyed (54% to be exact) are content creators. 52% share photos and 26% share videos – an increase from 45% and 18% in 2012. Young adults ages 18-29 are the most likely to create and post their own content.

47% of people surveyed are curators: people who share photos and videos posted by others. 42% share photos and 36% share video.

We have creators, we have curators, and we have both. 40% of respondents post content and share content.

So What?

This is great and all, but what does it mean? For those who believe the glass is half-full, Internet users love to share content. Almost 50% of Internet users are itching to share your photos and video. A share is one of the highest forms of social media success. Views are nice, likes are appreciated, comments are awesome, and shares are the best. Shares are Internet word of mouth advertising: viewers liked the content so much they’re willing to stake their name to it by posting the photo or video on their profiles and blogs.

The emphasis on photo and video creation and sharing also highlights the visual renaissance the Internet is experiencing. Instagram, Vine, Twitpic, etc., People are taking photos and videos now more than ever and have a larger audience than ever before. Yes, you can get on your soapbox and say we really don’t need more photos of Starbucks beverages and freshly painted nails, but your bland text post won’t get as much interaction as the pictures you’re venting about.

Let’s Talk About Apps

Pew focused on Instagram and Snapchat use in their study. While 9% of cell phone owners use Snapchat, 12% use Instagram. Listen up Snapchat haters: that app is catching up to your precious Instagram.

When you drill down the data, the rise of Snapchat in the 18-29 demographic is undeniable. 26% of users in that age range use Snapchat and 43% use Instagram. Plus, 24% of Instagram users said they share photos on the app multiple times a day. Creating and sharing photos is a lifestyle.

The Value of this Study

Marketers have been trying to figure out the trajectory of social media for years. Some grab their lab coats and goggles to analyze the trends while others seek out magic crystal balls. If marketers say something is “just a fad,” they run the risk of getting left behind. If they jump on every possible new trend then they could lose significant money investing in a brief fad.

Lately people have been focused on the unpopularity of Facebook with teens and their preference towards Tumblr and Instagram. The logic is that younger generations will grow up and the old ways will die out. This is how it’s been for generations. However, the Internet is on a timeline of its own and there are third-party circumstances for change and evolution that we cannot predict. A website can shoot itself in the foot with a few bad corporate decisions and become a social media ghost town, or something new and flashy can be invented and rise to the top in a matter of months.

Rather than focusing on what platforms the kids are on, focus on the content they’re sharing. This study found that younger generations like pictures and videos, and the rest of Internet users are following that demographic. The main takeaway isn’t the popularity of Snapchat, it’s the importance of taking unique photos and video to appeal to users. Create quality content and the curation will soon follow.