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Why social media is such a big deal for community engagement

by: Amy Gahran |

If social media isn't yet a central, consistent part of your community engagement strategy, it's long past time to get serious about that. This week, Pew Internet reports that nearly three out of four U.S. adults uses online social networking -- popularity that spans nearly every demographic.

According to the Aug. 5 Pew update on social media, "Younger adults are especially avid adopters, but social networking continues to grow in popularity for older adults as well. Six out of ten internet users ages 50-64 are social networking site users, as are 43% of those ages 65 and older."

Social media might be especially valuable for engaging minority groups and less-privileged communities. Pew found that Hispanic adults are especially likely to use social networking (80%), compared to 75% of black adults and 70% of white adults. Also, adults from low-income households (earning less than $30,000/year) were the most likely of any income bracket (75%) to use social networking -- although this lead is tiny, higher income brackets are just a 1-4% behind this. And people who did not graduate high school lagged only slightly behind those with greater educational attainment.

While Twitter gets a lot of attention from people in news and community projects, only 18% of U.S. adults currently use Twitter. So while it's worth including Twitter in your community engagement strategy, Facebook is far more likely to be highly popular in any segment of your community.

Amy Gahran

Amy Gahran is a journalist, editor, trainer, entrepreneur, strategist, and media consultant based in Boulder, Colorado. In addition to writing
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