Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Battle of the Sexes and Other Interesting Crossed Lines of Social Communication

Thought by Jason Griffey, Photo by Pierre Metivier (Flickr)
Maybe you've heard the story about the Philosophy 101 student who wrote 'everything is everything else' and got an A for the class term. Yeah, it sounds kinda woo-woo, but to me at least, it makes sense. Especially when talking about the internet and social communications. To illustrate, let's take a look at a few things I found while flaneusing the WWW this week.

New Data on How the Sexes Use the Internet Differently

Some new data came in about how men and women use the internet differently, especially social communications platforms. I've already seen two infographics about the results and both of them are headlined: "Battle of the Sexes"! I guess that makes for a good hook to get you to look at the associated infographics, but it's really disingenuous. Seriously, it's not like we're engaged in some sort of contest to see who uses which platform more. Colour me cynical, but I think the headline writer was more interested in getting eyes on the page than in accurately describing the infographic.Which leads me to advise that it's worth it to work a little harder on your headlines - creating an attention-getter shouldn't mean grabbing the first cliché that comes to hand. (Note: I am an INTP, and have a thing about accurate descriptions.)

Different Strokes for - oh, you know

The data each infographic chooses to highlight is different, however. In both, Pinterest is called out as being dominated by women. However, No 1. Infographic calls out what women prefer on the site and how Pinterest drives sales referral traffic, while No. 2 says that retailers and lifestyle sites are reaping the most benefit and that Pinterest is of no interest to men (not completely true, obviously). Both infographics agree that LinkedIn is preferred by men rather than women. However, No.1 shows three mini graphics showing the breakdown of what men use LinkedIn for, while No.2 sticks pretty much with just showing how many men use it along with a funny little piece of trivia about a recent poll on LinkedIn (note: if LI is preponderantly men, then isn't the result of this poll a little skewed?).

Just Who Are They Talking To?

It seems evident to me that what each site chose to highlight in their infographic is tied to who they think their audience is. Infographic No. 1 is from a marketing site specializing in mobile marketing information and Infographic No. 2 is from Mashable. When you have time, compare the two and decide who they think they're talking to. Then next time you have data you think might look good in an infographic, remember to think about your audience and what they might find important versus what your small nonprofit thinks is important AND what you would like to have them think about and how your infographic might persuade them to do so.

Politics and Online Engagement

The results of another study - this one by Pew Research Internet and American Life - says that political activity via social sites is up by a significant amount. Well, who cares? you ask - nonprofits aren't allowed to be political (usually). Well, there are two things in this article that struck me (emphasis mine):
Pew's study also sheds light on the often-asked question of whether political involvement in the online world translates into offline action: 43% of social media users told Pew they decided to learn more about an issue they first discovered on social media, while 18% took offline action on a political or social issue after reading about it on social media. 
[...] the typical American who is politically active engages with political content across a range of venues—online, offline, and in social networking spaces," continued Smith. "Social networking sites offer a space for individuals who are passionate about issues to share that passion with others, and their engagement with those issues often bleeds over into other aspects of their lives." 
I take this as meaning that, if political and social issues are debated and discussed on the internet, you should be part of that discussion rather than staying in your own yard. Be scrupulous about not advocating for any political 'side', but engage through the issue about your mission and goals and your social communications reach could grow into new areas.

Social Media News of the Strange

Digiday, which is about digital media, advertising, and marketing has a really interesting article about how sites use the data from people searching for porn to increase their SEO rankings and focus content. I never would have contemplated this, but according to this article, ComScore reports that six of its 10 top search-term referrals for March were sex-related [...]" and that sites like Funny or Die use that data to serve up content. Warning: there are lots of porn related terms used in the article, so if you're easily offended, don't go there. I don't have any insight to offer regarding this information. The article just reinforced my position that everything is connected in some way.

A Different Kind of Annual Report

Oscio, which reports on marketing and advertising for social causes, showed how Calgary Zoo in Canada created an entire Annual Report for posting on Instagram. If you're looking to connect with more Millennials, you might take a... photo... from their book. They had help from professionals, but there's no reason why your small nonprofit couldn't do something like this and it might pay off.

Take some time to wrap your head around some of this stuff and consider how you might step up your social communications game by using the data in the infographics (or other infographics on the same subject) and data from studies to focus your engagement and content and determine the package it ought to come in. Or packages. There are myriad ways to go and innovative things to do. Try something different. If it doesn't work, try something else. It's all connected and it's all up to you.

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