A NYU journalism student has written an “embedded report” about Quarter lifers / GenY’s outlook on journalism and online media for the PBS Mediashift blog.
In the online journalism class that I teach, I find the exact same results as Alana at NYU. Turns out most of this demographic that media and marketers think are totally saturated in online engagement — just aren’t. In fact, I made the same point back in July 2007.
Every semester, I introduce members of this “online” generation to things that you (as an assumed engaged online user) think are basic knowledge. Flickr. Digg. Twitter. They’ve never heard of them. Most of them are on Facebook and watch (not upload) video on YouTube, but that’s about it.
As companies develop marketing plans or the media develops media strategies, it needs to be remembered that most people (not just this demo) are NOT actively participating in online activities. Building the entire campaign and platform to focus on online users will make you lose in the short term. You need to be online, but you can’t expect it to pull all the weight at this point in time. Online growth is phenomenal, but we’re not ready to throw away other parts of the mix for younger demographics. And it goes the other way, too. I know of many marketers making the opposite mistake and just focusing online to younger demographics, when older demos (especially boomers) are going online and participating.
When I do posts like this, the online community thinks it’s heresy and I usually get a few disbelieving comments/emails. But YOU are online and if you’re reading a blog like this one, then it’s likely that your worldview is skewed. I’ve made the challenge before….
Get your head out of Dungeons & Dragons a/k/a Second Life and get out in the real world to start promoting this thing that you’re so passionate about. And I don’t mean at a conference full of tech people. Go to a local Chamber meeting, find a small business person, and ask them if they’re using blogs to talk to their customers. When you’re checking out at the grocery, ask the mother behind you if she reads Dooce. Ask a marketing director if she checks a blog search engine for mentions of the company.
You may be surprised at how out-of-touch you are by being so in-touch. If you’re wondering what other journalism students think about Alana’s embed, I’ve assigned my students to react to her post on thier blogs by next Monday.