Popping the Social Media Bubble

Recently, Courtney Dial, the founder of Pizzazzerie, wrote a great piece on Arment Dietrich’s F.A.D.S. titled “Why is Generation Y Not on Twitter“. The title alone had me thinking because, it seems like the vast majority of you out there seem to think that, well, everyone is participating in Social Media these days.

They’re not.

You and I are in the minority. The active Millennials on Twitter still represent the ‘early adopter’ phase of an entire generation. Don’t believe me? A recent study by Pingdom present some pretty surprising statistics. In short, you and I as twenty-somethings are not, at all, the majorty of the population on the Social Web.

Average Age of Social Network User

The results:

  • The average social network user is 37 years old.
  • LinkedIn, with its business focus, has a predictably high average user age; 44.
  • The average Twitter user is 39 years old.
  • The average Facebook user is 38 years old.
  • The average MySpace user is 31 years old.
  • Bebo has by far the youngest users, as witnessed earlier, with an average age of 28.

The Social Web is a small world, after all

Have you ever noticed that it seems like a very small world on Twitter, that you seem to somehow know all of the ‘major players’, that, like high school, even when you don’t want to see the one girl after that party last weekend, you somehow keep awkwardly bumping into her in the hallways between classes?

Yeah, it’s a lot like that because folks our age haven’t adopted Twitter for what it can be. And a lot of the folks WITHIN the Social Media ‘bubble’ haven’t figured out how to leverage those “in the bubble” relationships into real-life benefits.

  • Are you waxing philosophical on why you should use Twitter to people who are already on it?
  • Are your preaching job search advice to people who are happily employed?
  • Are you pushing SEO strategy to folks who don’t have a website?

You’re talking to the wrong people.

It’s easy to find yourself caught up inside the Social Media bubble – but that’s not where the magic happens, that’s not where dollars are earned, that’s not where long-lasting personal and professional relationships are forged. Nurtured? Sure. Enhanced? Possibly. But things rarely start and end within the confines of ‘Social Meda’.

Out of the initial context of her post, Courtney makes a great point when she says,

“They’re [Generation Y collectively] not comfortable engaging beyond their existing social network”.

Ever heard of the concept of cliques? Ever heard of struggling to leave your comfort zone? Of course you have. Both of these are VERY prominent in the Social Media space. It’s easy to get complacent and forget that to get the most out of the space, you have to escape the rat race, the noise, the talking in circles that happens every day.

It’s not easy and the echo chamber is pretty loud.

Social Media is great because everyone can do it. Social Media is also a huge mess. Why? Because everyone can do it. The low barriers of entry are a blessing and a curse. Because of this, there’s an incredible amount of crap and noise to cut through to get to the “good stuff”.

Expand your reach. Pop the bubble

Today I encourage you to to expand your reach – stop reaching out to the same people time after time, stop selling your product to people who don’t need it, stop pushing your content to folks who aren’t interested. Everyone in PR/Marketing/Advertising doesn’t have to only talk to people in PR/Marketing/Advertising. If you are, odds are you’re probably running in circles.

Chat with folks in HR, talk to that friend of a friend who started their own coffee shop, stop going to every tweetup in your city and start coordinating your own events that teach people who (desperately) want to know how to use the online tools you and I take for granted to achieve their goals.

Everyone isn’t on Twitter. We don’t all have Facebook Fan Pages. The entire world isn’t writing a blog. If you’re doing it, you are the minority.

Take advantage of the position and platform(s) you’ve created for yourself, and understand that you are REALLY limiting yourself if you’re only focused on what everyone else is doing in our little space.

(Photo Credit)