A future scenario that envisions that all Americans will get government information directly from the Internet at home risks leaving nearly a hundred million Americans left in the dust.
Who dares to believe that a significant portion of US Citizens will be offline in the coming years? Business Week, as reported by public relations specialist Shel Holtz:
The [3/20/2006 Business Week] article that struck me: Why the Web is Hitting a Wall (paid subscription required). The article by Roger Crockett reports on a Parks Associates survey that reveals 39 million American households do not have Internet accessâ€”meaning only 64% of households do. (And only a small percentage of these read blogs or listen to podcasts!)
The study broke down the reasons why so many Americans are avoiding the Net. Itâ€™s a knee-jerk reaction to assume theyâ€™re all just getting what they need at work. In fact, that rationale accounts for only 31% of nonusers, according to the study. Sixty percent of people over 65 arenâ€™t connected. There are 6 million homes with PCs but no Internet connection, and most of them wouldnâ€™t subscribe to Net access at any price. Another million say theyâ€™re not interested in â€œanythingâ€ on the Net.
Analysts anticipate the total online US population will only reach 67% by 2009.
What is the advice of this experienced communications specialist for businesses with clear stakes in reaching customers?
The bottom line is simple: Abandon traditional methods of communication for social media and you also abandon 36% of the total consumer market. Sadly, rather than shift all your efforts to social media, youâ€™ll just have to allocate the resources to do both.
We hear so much talk that government should be run like a business. Perhaps that should include making government information available in formats that a hundred million Americans can use and relegating paper and fiche to the “legacy” age?
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