Who’s on Social Media? (And, Who’s Not?)

Uh oh…I just spent a whole hour browsing Facebook and Linked In, with nearly nothing to show for it. Except that I didn’t find who I was looking for. Finding time to engage in social media is a challenge — there’s work during the day, and supper/homeworkhelp/dishes/PTAmeeting/groceryshopping in the evenings. So I found myself wondering after our last class about the group of people who are NOT on social media? Are there any, and if so, who are they?

It turns out, the group of non-participants is really very small, if you believe the studies. These graphs from the recent Pew Research’s Internet Project tell the story: basically, younger people are on Twitter, older people are on LinkedIn, and Facebook has a mix.

pew_all3

But I wanted to see this for myself, so I looked up a few of my college classmates who are now in high-level positions at companies, or law firms, or hospitals. And they aren’t there. Or if they are, they are on LinkedIn, which (it can be argued) is the digital version of the old fashioned professional directories.

What’s interesting to me is that they aren’t seeing or experiencing what the rest of the country is seeing. Maybe they have a “ghost” account. But in any case, a company that decides to use Social Media for targeted marketing needs to take that into account. It means that the data needs to be interpreted before making key decisions. As social media evolves it will be interesting to see whether there continue to be pockets of “disconnected” groups, or whether social media will become an expected part of infrastructure, much like the telephone has been for the last century.

Andrew Sorkin recently blogged in the New York Times on A&E’s decision to suspend Phil Robertson based on Twitter reaction to a comment he made,  It’s a good example of the skew that can happen when Social Media is part of the decision process.

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