Ignore Social Networks at Your Own Peril

The recently released Nielsen Online Global Index report should finally put to rest the notion that social networks and blogs are just teenage fads that will soon disappear. Nielsen’s report confirms that these two communications channels are fast becoming the most popular online destinations for internet users around the world.

Facebook, the social network category killer, is the primary driver of this growth. Its 35-49 year old user audience grew by 24.1 million between December 2007 and December 2008. Facebook also added another 13.6 million 50-64 year old visitors – almost twice the number of new, under 18 year old users during the same period.

The phenomenal increase in social networking and blog popularity is only half the story. The amount of time people spent at these destinations is also big news. While total time spent online grew globally by 18%, the amount of time spent on ‘Member Community’ sites rose by 63% to 45 billion minutes! The average time per person spent on Facebook increased by 566%.

So it is good to see that some Jewish organizations are starting to use social networks and blogs to communicate with their audiences. Even if the teen set moves on to something new (seeking to get as far away from an ever more ‘uncool’ senior Facebook user crowd) it will be wise for Jewish organizations to solidify their positions with their core audiences by meeting them where they are – blogging, networking and connecting just a click away.

Gail Hyman is a marketing and communications professional, with deep experience in both the public and private sectors. She currently focuses her practice, Gail Hyman Consulting, on assisting Jewish nonprofit organizations increase their ranks of supporters and better leverage their communications in the Web 2.0 environment. Gail is a regular contributor to eJewish Philanthropy.