Do you Tweet? Are you Linked In with everyone you've ever met? Do you have 200 BFFs on Facebook?
If you are like a rapidly-increasing number of Americans, your answer is probably yes.
According to a new nationwide survey* I read about last week, some 43% of online households use social media sites, including Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter (listed in order of popularity). This is up from 27% just a year ago. That's a staggering 60% jump in only 12 months' time!
And they tend to be regular users, with more than half logging in every day and usually several times a day. Though we might assume that the vast majority of social networkers are under 35, the number of networkers over age 55 has tripled in the past year to 19%. Yes, I've actually started receiving Facebook invitations from my parents' friends.
Besides using the social media sites to connect with old friends and classmates, the survey respondents said they would like more access and interaction with favorite companies and service providers through their social networks.
Yes, you heard that right. Social networkers WANT to interact with favorite companies and service providers.
Which is why Griffin Strategies, Inc. is ramping up the use of social media tactics as part of a broader marketing or grassroots communications plan for our clients. If handled right, social media provide an extremely valuable and cost-effective avenue for getting out your message to a wider audience. If you haven't yet explored social media, now is the time to get connected, linked and followed!
*The survey of 10,000 U.S.households was conducted by The Conference Board, a global membership and research association, in partnership with TNS, a global market insight and information group.
I’m sure you’ve seen it by now. The You Tube footage of Larry King Live from Neverland Ranch. Somehow, my 9-year-old son heard that Michael Jackson’s ghost was in the background of a shot of Michael’s old bedroom at The Ranch. Like more than 8 million other people, my son and I drained the battery on my iPhone as we watched the shadowy specter of Michael Jackson again and again on You Tube.
You Tube, in fact, was dominated by all things Michael Jackson, with at least 11 of today’s top 15 favorite videos related to the King of Pop’s life … or death. And that was just for people who weren’t already getting enough through the wall-to-wall coverage by the cable news channels, live network broadcasts and Yahoo! News.
Forgive my insensitivity, but what happened to the real news? You know, news about sweeping new food safety regulations announced this week by the FDA? Stories about the unfortunate plunge in new home sales? Updates about Iran’s leader crushing his detractors?
Though those real news items received coverage, it was scant compared to the media’s attention to the Michael Jackson spectacle. According to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, Michael Jackson dominated 17% of the overall news hole, with the economy ranking second at 10%. Interestingly, Michael Jackson was mentioned in the news about three times more often than President Barack Obama between June 29 and July 5.
As a PR professional who’s made a career out of working with the media, it raises some troubling questions. Do you have to create a spectacle to garner the media’s attention? Does real news warrant attention anymore? In spite of the jump in 24-hour television and online coverage, I’ve discovered in the past few years that it is becoming increasingly difficult to pitch news stories. Newspapers have let go of longtime beat reporters who had spent years developing their expertise and sources to get good stories. Fewer and fewer radio stations have locally-based news teams and talk show hosts. Television stations seem to spend far more time on crime blotter reports and stories about the quasi-celebrities on their network’s reality show, than they do on issues people care about. Or that people ought to care about.
That’s really what it boils down to.
Media have changed, but are they to blame? Or are we, as the consumers of information, at fault? Given the nearly 4 million You Tube views of ABC News’ Michael Jackson Memorial Service coverage, I think the answer is clear.
Celebrities, whether living or dead, are far more interesting than real news.
I suppose that next time one of my clients wants to make a major policy or business announcement, I can hire Britney Spears or Chastity Bono to be our spokesmodel. Can’t be sure either would stay on message, but at least the spectacle would bring out the media, as I quietly mourn the specter of real news.