“If a tweet enters the Twittersphere and nobody’s there, does it make a sound?”

Recently released research from Pew should send a wake-up call to all marketers who have been–or may find themselves becoming–overly enamored of the “power” of social media.

Don’t get me wrong. I think social media has its place among any marketer’s arsenal of *potential* communication tools. But, I also think that too many marketers are far too eager to jump on the social media bandwagon without appropriate consideration to whether or not a significant percentage of their audience is out there. “If a tweet enters the Twittersphere and nobody’s there, does it make a sound?” Sadly, no.

Even among those under 30, only 61 percent indicate that they use social networking sites on a typical day. Compare that to the popular wisdom that suggests that *all* “young people” are using social media. They’re not. In fact, each semester I ask students in my classes how many use the top three social media sites (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) – a majority are on Facebook, one or two in a class generally on Twitter, and few have even *heard* of LinkedIn.

What does this mean for you? Well, it really doesn’t matter whether “everyone” is doing something or not. What matters is whether your target audience is doing something–like actively participating in Twitter, or reading the local paper, or watching the local news, or listening to particular radio programs, or…

The “next great thing” in marketing these days is mobile marketing. You hear a lot about how you need to get your web site optimized for mobile and maybe you do. But before you focus too much time and effort here you should step back and think carefully about who your audience is and importantly both whether they use mobile and how they might use it to access you.

Sure–check out all the communication options available to you. Learn about how they work; explore the benefits they might provide you. Experiment with them yourself. But don’t just blindly follow the herd when it comes to adopting communication as part of your promotion mix. If you do, you may find that wiser competitors are connecting with your audience in other, more relevant, ways.

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