A study led by Abilene Christian University followed the Facebook profiles of 375 first-semester freshman students for nine months to examine how Facebook activity can be used as a predictor for a student’s likelihood to stay in school. The research found that students who returned to school after freshman year had significantly more Facebook friends and wall posts than those who didn’t return.
I found a couple of posts at Fast Company this week that challenged my thinking about how I see the audience that the web can attract to what we do in churches, non-profits, businesses, or even (God-forbid) politics. The first was a post from Richard Brooks in response to a colleague’s assertion “Our target audience is too old for blogs. They’re too old for Tweeter (sic). They’re too old for Facebook. I don’t see our audience reading blogs.”
“Do you mind if I add my .02?” I asked. Since I made and served coffee to our guests already, they may have felt indebted to me, but in any case they asked me to continue.
“Blog posts are just like Web pages; each blog post you create is another opportunity to rank well at the search engines. You don’t have to worry whether your audience reads blogs, just if they use the Internet and search engines. (And I assume you do believe that, otherwise you wouldn’t have an e-commerce store.) Your blog posts can attract that search traffic and either funnel the prospect to your site or we can e-commerce right to your blog itself.
“According to some recent surveys the fastest growing segment in Facebook is women 35 and over. A lot of ‘grandmas’ are joining Facebook because that’s where they can see their grandkids’ photos. The average age of someone on Twitter is 31 (which means a lot of people are older).
“A strategic combination of search engine optimization and social media marketing (along with some hard work) can definitely increase the quantity and quality of traffic coming to your Web site. Plus, with social media you can better engage your audience and get feedback from them on what your next products should be.
“You might end up being a little ahead of the curve for some of your audience, but better to be a little ahead than behind.”
So there I thought to myself, I have been making some wrong assertions. I wonder who else has?
Then I read Lindsay Pollack’s interesting reflection on her new assistant and what she brought to their work together. Pollack is a member of Generation X and her assistant is of Generation Y. She offered the following observations in her post “Why I Love My Gen Y Assistant.”
1. She brings up things that never occur to me.
2. She’s just tech-ier.
3. She understands personal branding.
4. She’s not really into the 9 to 5.
5. Her energy is phenomenal.
I give thanks that God has placed members of the Gen X, Gen Y, Boomer, and Silent generations on my team. It often makes for interesting conversations and usually means that we can make better decisions together than we could make separately. The above posts also remind me that I need think through the positives that each staff person (and their generation) brings to the table and avoid the easy cliches about a generation’s supposed shortcomings.