San Francisco Social Media Study’s Surprising Conclusion
While the Internet has been hailed as a “digital democracy,” a new study says the Internet is actually dominated by the opinions of rich, powerful people.
The University of California, Berkeley study revealed that fewer than 10 percent of people in the United States are “participating in most online production activities.” Furthermore, it concluded that most blogs, social media, news aggregation and video-sharing websites are dominated by the opinions of people with college degrees, rather than the uneducated. “The working class is underrepresented on the Internet,” the study said.
Jen Schradie, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at U.C. Berkeley, wrote the study that crunched data on 41,000 American adults and their online activity between 2000 and 2008. She concluded that for the majority of the population, “Having Internet access is not enough.” Rather than level the playing field, she found that “the digital divide for social media users is wider between the .”
This is in sharp contrast to what many previously believed to be the triumph of Internet culture – that the poor and disenfranchised were given a voice with this powerful global tool. To some extent, that remains true – social media sites are mobilizing revolutions in the Middle East, for example – but still, the prevailing influence is retained by richer, better educated people who launch websites to communicate their messages rather than those who attempt to become their own social media agency through Facebook or Twitter.
That doesn’t mean that small business owners can’t make their voices be heard. San Francisco social media experts contend that the Internet is still a powerful marketing tool for those who will take advantage of it. This means utilizing search engine marketing, online videos, and any other tools at their disposal on top of social media marketing.