Social Media Atlanta 2010

By: Clay Duda, Social Media Consultant, Center for Sustainable Journalism There is a growing…

Georgia (Nov 4, 2010)

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By: Clay Duda, Social Media Consultant, Center for Sustainable Journalism
There is a growing community on the Internet. I say community because that’s exactly what it is. Social Media – a term that rounds up Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Myspace, blogs and dozens of other sites – has carved a foothold into the lives of many regardless of age. Businesses use these networks for everything from connecting with new customers to weeding out applicants. Non-profits use them to instantly connect those in need to those with the means to give at lightning speed. College kids chat. Instead of passing notes they send Facebook messages, tweets and texts.
I also say community because social media is not a one-way flow of information. It’s a lively interaction of all those who choose to connect. Our online usage has evolved a long way from the “Dot Com Boom” of the 1990’s, where stagnant websites existed in cyber obscurity. Increasingly businesses – Fortune 500s to start-ups – are adding social media to their marketing approach. If you’ve yet to venture into the social world of digital sparks and connections there may be a few ohs and ahs you’re missing out on.
The demographics of Facebook have been changing over the past couple of years. Odds are your high school and college age children have accounts, and parents (and even grandparents) have followed suit at staggering rates. The 18-24 age group – the original target demographic for the social site – has experienced the slowest growth in new users, according to iStrategyLabs’ statistics. People age 35 and older now make up more than 30 percent of total Facebook users. The fastest growing age group, women 55 and older, increased a whopping 922 percent in 2009. Lev Grossman of Time magazine thought the influx of older users marginalized Facebook’s “cool” status among today’s youth, but the fact is Facebook has matured beyond simple schoolyard games.
Facebook has become a good place to reach out to family, friends and even track down old comrades and classmates as a diverse age range continue to join the community.
“[Middle-aged Americans have] gone through multiple schools, jobs and marriages. Each one of those came with a complete cast of characters, most of whom we have forgotten existed,” Grossman writes in his Time article about why Facebook is ideal for ‘Old Fogies.’ “But Facebook never forgets.”
There are more than 100 million active Facebook users in the United States, with around 50 percent logging in on any given day, according to Facebook’s own statistics. Geographically, Atlanta experienced the largest increase in new users in 2009 with a growth of about 267 percent. Join the conversation and you may be surprised who you end up connecting with. 
About 30 percent of companies leveraged social media to promote their brand, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey. Larger companies did it more, but it’s not just Fortune 500’s getting in on the action. About one in five companies plan to add social media responsibilities to an existing employee. Eight percent will hire someone to specifically handle social media through the next year.
CareerBuilder also named social media one of its top 10 hiring trends of 2010. Traditional television ads only produced a positive ROI 18 percent of the time, and companies have increasingly looked for innovative (and low cost) means of reaching new, and building confidence among existing, consumers.
Social platforms have also given costumers a chance to voice their own opinion about products or services. In 2009 an obscure Canadian band called Sons of Maxwell attracted big-business attention after posting a series of YouTube music videos about how United Airlines broke its $3,500 guitar. The most popular of the videos received more than 9 million views and was a hard lesson for the airline giant. Many businesses are still grappling with the shift in business-customer relations.
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