As a part of Digital Capital Week, Najeema Washington, founder of Sterling Flow Media, is hosting a discussion today at 1:30 p.m. titled Social Media for Non-traditional Users: Overcoming the New Digital Divide. The purpose of this session is to introduce social media technologies to an audience that may be somewhat tech savvy but unfamiliar or uncomfortable with using social media.
I was fortunate to be able to interview Ms. Washington prior to her session to gain greater insight into the purpose of the session and why she believes it to be important.
Q: What inspired you to develop this session for DCWeek?
A: I was inspired to do this session because I wanted to be a part of DC Week and I remember a need that was expressed to me by ‘non-traditional users’ at a Black PR Meeting earlier this year. On top of that, I have parents in the age group that I classify as non-traditional users. My mom knows how to turn on the computer, but Facebook is completely foreign to her. But there are lots of things that she’s missing out on the web, based on her interests. Social media would enhance her web experience.
Q: How do you classify “non-traditional” users? What do you consider to be the greatest barriers to them utilizing social media?
A: Initially the classification was based on older users, those 45 and older. But then I realized that there are lots of new social users and that many populations could benefit. It’s not just about ‘older people.’ This presentation is about eliminating the digital divide for all people who are interested in learning how social media can improve their personal or professional lives. That includes users with disabilities, bi-lingual populations, individuals reentering the workforce, or even reentering society, such as the prison population. The greatest barriers are exposure and a lack of technology. If you don’t have the machinery to participate, then it’s nearly impossible to immerse yourself into the technology and social media.
Q: Why do you think that it’s important for non-traditional users to utilize social media? What do you see as the benefits?
A: Trends and new social media technologies are still a mystery to a large population. Growing numbers of older social media users may be more tech savvy than their peers, but have a hard time staying particularly current, or identifying the social media best suited for their personal and entrepreneurial needs. This session hopes to help moderately savvy older users to overcome the digital divide in social media. There are a number of uses for social media including entrepreneurial pursuits or personal development. Non-traditional users will be behind the digital divide if they don’t educate themselves on what media work best for them.
Q: Have you found that “non-traditional” users are intimidated by social media? If so, what is your strategy for helping them to overcome that sense of intimidation?
A: Yes, non-traditional users are intimidated by social media, in my opinion. My strategy to overcome that is to expose the user to the benefits of the technology and be very practical with my examples. For example, do you want to plan your family or class reunion? Do you want to launch your baking business online.
In the end, one’s desire to not be left behind the curve has got to be the catalyst to propel them forward into these new technologies. Hopefully the very specific learning objectives of the presentation will be helpful to this group of non-traditional users. The learning objectives are 1) Become familiar with popular social media platforms, 2) Identify which best fit their needs, 3) Develop a simple social media strategy, and 4) Learn tools for simple integration of social media.
Q: Do you believe that having a social media presence is critical to an entrepreneur? If so, why? If not, why not?
A: Without a doubt, yes. Now, it’s certainly possible to successfully run a business without a social media presence. But a newly launched business must implement social media strategies in order to capture the population that relies on social media for information. How many times do people just google whatever they’re looking for. How can your business be found if you’re not on the web? Now, it’s more than just having a Facebook page or a twitter account. The most successful entrepreneurs have relationships with their customers. But the right social media strategist can help your social media achieve the personal feel that is necessary to profitably connect with consumers.