Saturday, November 21, 2009

Go where the people are

In the social media presentations, I spend a few moments looking at user participation in some networks.

My approach is for people in these discussions to consider the social networking numbers. However, I warn them to not be misled. These networks are not the only ones you should consider, and don’t be fooled into thinking that they will be the only ones in the future. People will shift and migrate to networks that serve them better, provide them with customized information, niche social networks, or better filters.


  • More than 300 million users.
  • More than 2 billion photos uploaded to the site each month.
  • 14+ million videos uploaded each month.
  • 2+ billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) are shared each week.
  • Fastest growing demographic is those 35 years old and older.
  • People who use mobile devices to access Facebook are almost 50% more active on Facebook than non-mobile users.
  • More than 180 mobile operators in 60 countries working to deploy Facebook mobile products. Retrieved 10/1/2009
            • If we have not already realized that there is growing of importance of mobile connections, this should be our wake-up call to make our information--text, presentations, pictures, audio, video, or games--more portable and accessible for mobile devices. What are we doing to move our content to be mobile accessible?

An example of an educational approach to “go where the people are” is a Facebook Page Eat Smart Play Hard Together nutrition program. Julie Garden-Robinson, nutrition specialist at North Dakota State University, created this page to extend her web site to the youthful audiences. She partnered with the NDSU Bison Athletic Department and has student athletes (local celebrities) help promote her program. She used this page as a means of directly connecting and interacting with visitors to the web site.

Cooperative Extension, Julie says, “has a lot of research-based ‘static’ information to share, but we wanted a ‘dynamic’, innovative feature on Eat Smart Play Hard Together. Using social media has increased the number of people, exposed to health messages through the networks of ‘friends’ on Facebook. As a benefit, we continue to attract and interact with ‘fans’ from around the country.”


This tells us that the vast majority of Twitter users are not interesting in hearing from lots of people, but rather be selective in who they followed. Another point is niche content and education has an important role for those who really want it. So consider niches, and specific information rather than general information.


  • 50 million members in over 200 countries and territories (October 14, 2009).
  • Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members. retrieved November 14, 2009.


During workshops on social media, the Wikipedia discussion is always interesting because I ask how people feel about using Wikipedia. Their statements and my responses are:

  • A statement: It is a great resource.
  • A statement: I use it as a starting point.
  • A statement: Schools don’t allow the use.
    • My response: It is a great starting point, and we should be teaching kids and ourselves how to use it to begin a search and investigate the sources.
  • A statement: It is not accurate.
  • A statement: Afraid to use it because anyone can edit the articles so I don’t trust Wikipedia.
  • A statement: Schools don’t allow the use.
    • My response: Have you found any inaccuracies?
  • A statement: No, I have not found any inaccuracies, but I have heard stories.
  • A statement: No, but sometimes the articles are gaps of information that should be included.
  • A statement: Yes, I have found an inaccuracy.
    • My response: Since anyone can, add, and correct information, then you have as much ability to edit and add Wikipedia articles as anyone. Wikipedia requires sources so when you make edit, be sure and give the source. Guess where the sources will come from? As educators within land-grant universities, most of your sources will be researched articles such as journal articles, research bulletins and Cooperative Extension publications. In fact, I believe it is our responsibility, as members of land-grant institutions, to edit and add Wikipedia pages to ensure that research-based information is part of the Wikipedia sources.


According to Bob Johansen, video will be part of almost every brand strategy in the future and will be available everywhere—including clothing, Video is and will be provoking and engaging.

The first step for beginners is to start now using video in all kinds of ways by multi-purposing your content. Consider uploading video to several sites, such as:

  • Your own web site
  • YouTube
  • iTunesU

With every video uploaded, be sure and describe it well and provide links back to your site.


What are the implications from these numbers in social networks? It is where people are and we should be there too. As we consider our goals and mission of our organizations, we absolutely cannot afford to not be where the people are.

However, don’t consider only these big networks. You want to find where niche communities are, such as in forums or specialized networks in Ning.


Eat Smart Play Hard Together Originally uploaded by aafromaa

Pointed question Originally uploaded by skipnclick

This outline was taken in part from Ideas for Social Media Strategy by Anne Mims Adrian, Rhonda Conlon, and Jerry Thomas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at .


Zoysha said...

Having these stats compiled recently in on place with attribution is really helpful!

Your point about finding the niche is right on -- I work on environmental issues and there is a huge amount of good green information on Twitter.

A great community environmental and social justice site founded by Paul Hawken is WiserEarth.

Thanks again for the great post!

Unknown said...

Zoysha, Thanks for your comments. More and more, I think niches are where the power of social media can be used to make real differences in people's lives.