August 24, 2009

Twitter and Its Reach...

I saw an interesting story on the web site for The Chronicle of Higher Education today, called Teens Don't Tweet. It talks about a new piece of research from the Nielsen Company that says Twitter's surge in popularity and growth is not being fueled by young people.

The second paragraph was extremely interesting to me:

"Twitter’s footprint has expanded impressively in the first half of 2009, reaching 10.7 percent of all active Internet users in June. Perhaps even more impressively, this growth has come despite a lack of widespread adoption by children, teens, and young adults. In June 2009, only 16 percent of website users were under the age of 25. Bear in mind persons under 25 make up nearly one quarter of the active US Internet universe, which means that effectively under-indexes on the youth market by 36 percent."

If you recall, I posted on this blog back at the end of July about the infatuation with the younger generation on texting as opposed to Twitter. Texting is a tool that they are already using, and one that we are underutilizing as a means of communicating with our members.

But, what I really want to get at is all of the conversations at the ASAE Annual Meeting that related to "focus on the strategy, not the tools." I think too often (my own organization and myself included), we are experimenting on different tools without a real strategy in place to start with, which is not the right way to do things. A strategy needs to guide us to which tools we will utilize.

As much as Twitter is the phenomenon right now, it may not be a long-term tool to accomplish the strategy that should be in place. Looking at what the younger generation is talking about (or not talking about in the case of Twitter) now, will allow us to have a better understanding of the types of tools that we should be utilizing as a part of our strategy.

So, how can we develop a strategy that will allow us to not have to reinvent the wheel every time a tool goes away?

I'd love to hear your comments on this post below. Thanks for reading...


Maddie Grant said...

You can always hire a SocialFish ;)

All kidding aside, developing a strategy is easier than it sounds when you put your mind to it. Get everyone (from various different departments and who are interested in social media efforts) in a room, ask them to talk about their individual goals, wishes, wants as well as their fears, and synthesize it all by focusing on two or three main strategic objectives (e.g. recruit younger members; establish the org (more) as a thought leader; enable collaborative work between members, etc). Once you have those, start a process of listening and monitoring to find our where your members already are and where people might be talking about your organization or field. The tools to focus on should be obvious at that point.

DO NOT make the mistake of thinking "we need a Facebook page because our competitor has one" - that may be entirely the wrong "tool" for you, and having a dormant site will do more damage than having none at all. But at the same time, it is OK to experiment with things, in order to explore your members' capacity for using these tools, as long as you're experimenting with your objectives in mind.

How's that for starters?

HowardW said...

One of the first ways I was able to get my arms around Twitter was when it was explained to me as the same thing as texting--just texting to a large distribution list all at once.

Ellen said...

Bruce -- Very surprising info about Twitter users! And you're so right that we tend to jump into new technology without creating a strategy around it first.

BUT I'd suggest that a certain amount of experimentation with that new technology is important BEFORE the strategy -- otherwise you won't know what's available to you:

1. Experiment and play and familiarize. Programmers call the places they're trying out "the sandbox." Embrace the sandbox idea. Decide who'll play in the sandbox, how they'll report back what they discover, and to whom.

2. When fashioning the strategy , in addition to following Maddie's steps, consider the report on the sandbox as well: what was Facebook good for, if anything? What about social bookmarking? etc. etc.

3. Implement based on the results of #1 and #2.