One of the most common questions marketing and social media managers ask (themselves as well as clients) is “who is the audience?” It’s a pertinent and valid question, but it forgets to factor in people’s inherent rejection of change with the contradictory concept of widespread adoption of new technologies.
What I mean by this, is that new services, platforms for communication, and devices are constantly coming out and being dreamed up. But the people who use them tend to adopt rapidly when they’re younger and slow down their addition of new services/platforms/devices as they get older. Various reasons behind this, less time, more stable social/family circles, general understanding of what they like and don’t like.
We see it happening with Facebook and Email very visibly. Go ask a teacher/ or undergrad professor and they’ll tell you that they keep sending emails but no one reads them! Yeah, because email is old. Email usurped physical snail mail and now shareable cloud space is usurping email. Shared workplaces (like project management clients, dropbox, online whiteboards) are faster and more efficient than email.
Don’t worry, email won’t disappear tomorrow, but it will die the slow death. You still get mail right?
So why is Facebook watching users lose interest? Well, people tend to stick with what they are used to and transition out of it slowly. So Facebook is now a tool of the adult and business use, but younger generations are favoring twitter, pintrest, pheed, snapchat, kik or other closed systems. Unii is a brilliant piece of social media. It’s basically facebook, just for university students.
This solves two major problems that social media created for young people.
1. Parents can’t join. Limited to students with University ID. Now their parents can’t see what type of trouble they’re getting into.
2. Potential employers won’t see their college indiscretions.
So what we have happening is multiple groups are splintering into their own communication microcultures where they consume information in a way of their choosing. So the answer to “Who is the audience?” is another question: “How does your audience want to be reached?” Each channel needs to be tailored to that particular group and their consumption preferences.
As we continue to increase the number of possible channels it does become unwieldy and identifying who your real audience is will be more important than ever before. It’s very easy for any one group to completely shun any given social media channel, because they are insulated and are getting what they need from their own community. One thing you can count on, is that once those same people are used to their adopted channel they’ll tend to stick with it for a long time and it becomes increasingly difficult as they get older to rapidly learn and move to new technologies. How long did it take Facebook to get saturated with parents and grandparents? Exactly, it took that first generation growing up and becoming those parents. Now their children are looking at mom and dad posting facebook updates and rolling their eyes at how behind the times they are.