Monday, February 17, 2014

Turn the question upside down

After any time I speak to a group and we have a discussion in the session about Cooperative Extension's online presence, I spend a lot of time reflecting on the conversations.

Consider this information from Pew Internet: "15% of American adults do not use the internet at all, and another 9% of adults use the internet but not at home."


In the session last Wednesday, someone brought up the point that we cannot forget our current clients and it's difficult to do both--use the traditional methods and learn new methods. He went on to say "It's a real challenge."

I admitted it is a challenge.

Let's ask an upside down question.

Pretend that we have been and are connecting with those people who expected us to be online. We had always been online. Now, we are getting pressure to meet the needs of those people who are not online. 

I think the response would -- "We don't want to forget our current clients and it's a challenge."

One difference is that the number of reach would be flipped as well. We would have to work really hard to reach a few people who are not online.  

I am not advocating that we forget our current clients. Nor am I saying all of our current clients are not online. I am saying that we need to give a lot more attention and effort to reach those people we don't know us. 

1 comment:

Karen Jeannette said...

Anne, thanks for your post. To expand on your point here, I ran across this link this week: http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-metrics-2/3-scientific-studies-with-real-insight-into-social-media/

One of the points made in this article is this:

"The best way to influence sales on social networks is by encouraging audience interactions....we can expand that notion to realize that if you want to have an audience large enough to interact with itself, “viral marketing” isn’t the way to do it."

So, to reiterate, this post discusses the goal for example, of Facebook is not necessarily to direct people to your content, but to generate buzz about your content (probably so people will be curious enough to find out more on their own at the website or other places).

And as a followup to your point then, not only do we need to be in places to reach more people, we need more people to generate buzz. Having a few people broadcast the message throughout Extension isn't going to be enough. We need many people in Extension to be fired up about sharing and interacting online through activities like sharing their context rich slide sets on Slideshare, sharing and commenting on others and each other's Facebooks posts,offering help via Google Helpouts, and ultimately prompting people to be curious about learning more just by the nature of them sharing what they are learning or how they are helping others in the open.

I know you know this, but I think this is a point that is hard to swallow. Based on our past models of using the web to broadcast, we feel like we should be more direct, predictable and efficient, but as we see that social signals are more and more a part of the equation for being found, we can't be minimizing the impact of simple sharing or simple conversations to help us be found, discovered, and valued.