Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Affluence Influences Internet Usage

A new Pew research poll shows that 20 percent of U.S. adults do not use the Internet because they have no interest in it.

This in and of itself is interesting, but when you dig a little deeper you see that the research shows it really has more to do with their education and affluence than self-interest.

The study shows, among other things, that 60 percent of those without a high school diploma do not use the Internet. Also, 40 percent of those with an annual income under $30,000. According to Pew, for folks making less than $20,000 per year there is even less interest in the Internet.

As a social media manager this is interesting news as it tells me that the people I am trying to reach online probably all have money to spare. As a human being it tells me that a significant sector of our society is being left behind while the rest of us move forward to better lives.

This blog is not about altruism, it's about business, however, there is a relevant point to make which concerns everyone doing business on the Internet: We are missing a full 20 percent of the available market.

There is also another interesting piece of information from the Pew report. I quote:
"Among adults who do not use the internet, almost half have told us that the main reason they don’t go online is because they don’t think the internet is relevant to them. Most have never used the internet before, and don’t have anyone in their household who does. About one in five say that they do know enough about technology to start using the internet on their own, and only one in ten told us that they were interested in using the internet or email in the future."

Obviously these individuals have yet to see, hear or find anything on the Internet which holds their interest. Strange, especially when you consider every interest is now accessible online.

When you consider the power of Social Media Marketing specifically, and Internet Marketing in general, and then consider it is only operating at 80 percent of capacity, it is easy to see the benefit we would all receive if we could bring even half the number of people not using the Internet online tomorrow. I am not saying it is possible for us, as marketers, to make this happen. I am merely pointing out the fact that sometimes, doing the right thing, the altruistic thing, is good for business.

It seems to me if we want to derive the most benefit from social media or any Internet marketing, at least a small portion of our efforts should be directed at growing the online audience and capturing that missing 20 percent. How we do that, however, is open to debate.

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