If your membership or non-profit association is still wondering if your members or prospects are using social media, you may want to review the findings of The Pew Research Center's Older Adults and Social Media report. This nationwide telephone survey of 2,252 American adults on their use of the Internet found that "while social media use has grown dramatically across all age groups, older users have been especially enthusiastic over the past year about embracing new networking tools." Here are some of the survey's key findings:
- Between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among Internet users ages 50-64 grew by 88% - from 25% to 47%
- During the same period, use among those ages 65 and older grew 100% from 13% to 26%
- By comparison, social networking use among users ages 18-29 grew by 13% - from 76% to 86%
Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist for the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, and author of the report, suggests that "social media has the potential to bridge generational gaps. There are few other spaces - online or offline - where tweens, teens, sandwich generation member, grandparents, friends and neighbors regularly intersect and communicate across the same network." She also notes that "email is still the primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families and colleagues, but many older users now rely on social network platforms to help manage their daily communications."
Social Media Use:
According to the Pew Study, "young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social media, but their growth pales in comparison with recent gains made by older users:"
- One in five (20%) online adults ages 50-64 say they use social networking sites on a typical day, up from 10% one year ago
- Among adults ages 65 and older, 13% log on to social networking sites on a typical day, compared with just 4% who did so in 2009
Use of Twitter:
The study indicates that one in ten Internet users ages 50 and older now say they use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves or see updates about others.
- Just 5% of users ages 50-64 had used Twitter or another status update service in 2009, and 11% now say they use these tools.
- On a typical day, 6% of online adults ages 50-64 make Twitter part of their routine, up from 1% in 2009
Getting Started With Social Media
So - if you're now convinced that you DO need to reach your existing and potential members and/or volunteers via social media, how should you get started? In his blog post Conquering Your Fears of Social Media (in the Search Engine Journal), Todd Heim suggests that while "social media campaigns can be extremely time consuming and/or very expensive... you don't need to break the bank or devote all of your time to your campaign." Heim suggests you:
- Start by claiming your user name and/or brand by setting up accounts in the most popular social media services. While you are doing this, learn a bit about each of the services and how they might be able to help you reach your goals.
- Start out small. Devoting just a few minutes a day could be enough to get you started. After long, you'll start to understand how each service works and (ideally) realize that the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.
- Set simple, specific and achievable short term goals. It could be something as simple as "Follow 10 people in my industry per day." Doing this will help give your actions focus and also help to manage the time you spend networking.
For more information on promoting online member/volunteer engagement through social media:
Have you created a social media strategy for 2011? If so, please share some of your tips.