Last week, I was looking at some social media stats and was struck by how low on the list “use a social networking site” was on the list of online activities. They’ve clearly made rapid gains in the last two years, but still, e-mail, search, e-commerce, e-government– the old new media– are clearly running the show. I admit, I’ve been drunk with excitement over the business applications of things like Twitter and Facebook, but the data is sobering.
I’m certainly not saying that you should stop focusing on social media. Depending on your audience, social networking may be much higher on the list. And understanding the new opportunities to engage with your audience is important. I just don’t want the excitement of social networking to mean that the best user experience people are drawn away from the key experiences most people are having online.
For instance, I’ve had quite a bit of experience with traditional .com and .gov websites. Lately, I’ve felt like that was sort of a negative. I’ve had much less experience with social networking sites than some of my peers and I’ve been afraid I’d be left behind. But, looking at these statistics helps me to understand how important traditional websites still are. They should and will evolve, but they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
And marketers should think about these numbers too. Clearly search optimization is still one of the most important things you should be doing online. Depending on your target, display advertising on news, weather, and e-mail portals can’t be forgotten. So, while you’re listening and engaging with your audience on Twitter, don’t forget they are a small (albeit engaged) portion of your audience.
Twitter is powerful and has become the way I find and consume a lot of information. It may just be who I choose to follow, but it seems like Twitter users love the service and love to share posts about how great it is. So, if you’re a Twitter user, it feels like everything and everyone that matters online is using it and getting fantastic results. Inversely, anyone not using it (particularly businesses) is missing out on the best thing ever.
Maybe one day, but not yet.