President’s Column

by Steve Higgins, IABC/Tulsa President

During a fun, long weekend in Chicago recently, I spent some quality time with an old friend who happens to be one of the most respected and accomplished communication scholars in the country, Dr. Steve Jones of the University of Illinois-Chicago.

A pioneer in the study of the Internet and online communities, Steve nonetheless declared himself a skeptic when it comes to the influence of social media.

After all, he pointed out, only 6 percent of the U.S. adult population is on Twitter, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center. How influential can a medium be when it only reaches a small fraction of the general public?

Maybe he’s got a point. In our headlong rush to embrace – and make others embrace – this exciting new communication channel, we may well be overestimating its reach and impact.
It’s an intriguing, provocative point of view. For the past few years, we’ve been talking about almost nothing but social media. Because many of us have been so immersed in it, it’s quite possible we’ve just assumed everyone else is, too.

Make no mistake, the evidence of social media’s power is everywhere. Recent events in the Middle East are just one example.

Fortunately, my friend and I spent much more time talking about March Madness, da Bears, music, travel, etc., than the reach of social media. But his comments stuck with me.

Perhaps as we devise effective communication strategies for our organizations, we should make social media like Twitter a key component – just as long as we don’t overlook that other 94 percent.