Twitter: No there there for economic developers?

It seems a day doesn’t go by without a new exhortation to use social media as part of your economic development outreach efforts.  The thinking goes, if you’re not tweeting, your missing key customers.  According to a recent article in the Columbia Journalism Review, “not so fast.”

The Pew Internet & American Life Project released a report on Thursday, the result of their study of Twitter demographics. Among other findings, the report focused on the fact that about 8 percent of American adults who use the Internet are Twitter users. Only 74 percent of American adults use the Internet, so that means that Twitter users make up about 6 percent of the adult population of the country.

Not only do very few people actually use Twitter, even fewer use it as a source of news.  So when using the “new media,” wise choices rely on the same type of rules that governed the “old media.”  Before you invest a lot of time and energy using Twitter or any of the other Internets make sure that the people you are trying to reach are likely to be users as well.

While Twitter only attracts 6 percent of all Internet-using households making over $75,000, there could be a  subgroup there (e.g., IT executives) who might be worth cultivating through Twitter.   But unless you know that, the results of this study generally suggest that Twitter might be a waste of time for economic developers.

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