Social Media Non-Adopters

According to the results of an Ipsos Reid online survey in 2011, 50% of all Canadians have a social networking profile.  There has been a great deal of awe and celebration around this figure.  But what about the other half who have not adopted social networking sites.  If we are using social media as a marketing tool, we are missing half the population!  I have several friends and relatives that simply will not join any of the popular social media sites.  I even know people who, by choice, have no internet connection at all!  Forget Web 2.0 – some have not become conversant with Web 1.0!  Maybe you’ve heard these sorts of statements, which are only the tip of the iceberg:

  •  “I’ve heard about privacy problems.  I’m still very leery to be out there.”
  • “I don’t have time to go on those sites.”
  • “It’s so impersonal.  Why don’t people just pick up the phone?”

I usually find myself trying to persuade the non-adopters to join in, although I don’t think I’ve actually been successful.  And some of their opinions are pretty hard to argue.

Privacy concerns?  Well, they certainly have me there with that argument.  Just try to count all the privacy breaches that have occurred on many platforms and through service providers where personal information was inadvertently released.   As a marketer, it is pretty hard to promise complete privacy to worried non-adopters.  So I couldn’t convince them on that score.

Social media sites are a time waster?  I suppose there is some truth to that statement because there have often been many things I should have been doing instead of frequenting my many sites.  I have to admit, I do waste time, but one could argue that the time spent is recreational.  It can also be educational and inspiring since there is an endless supply of all types of content and ways to connect, learn, share and be entertained.  People are now finding jobs using social media and recruiters have thoroughly embraced it as a tool.  Ok, I may have scored a few points with the non-adopters there, but not enough.

Here is my best stab at persuading the non-adopters:  I have strengthened my personal relationships with  friends and family members because of social media sites and wish the same happy experience  for them.  Sadly, there are lots of people I see only a few times a year.  I would love to get together and  maybe share some old photos, eat great food, laugh and hug.  But it just doesn’t happen that often.  There is so much to share with your online community that you feel even more connected than relying on face-to-face get-togethers only.  On a daily basis, I often know where my friends are, what they are doing and see videos of them.  I can even see their vacation pictures (or not)!  I have a new-found respect for many friends that I’ve LinkedIn because I never really knew all of their professional credentials.  Who asks their friends for a resume “in real life”?  I can even see my great niece growing up on the other side of the country using Skype!  How would all this be possible if we were limited to a once or twice a year visit?  The non-adopters cock their heads at this sermon and seem somewhat interested.  But without the actual experience, they are still reluctant.

So far, the sales pitch has been largely unsuccessful.  But I still want my non-adopter friends and family to join me online and share the various communities available.  How else can I convince them?  There’s a huge market that is currently not engaged and marketers need to find ways to entice the non-adopters into our online circles and help them set their objections aside.