During my recent presentation at the Wallace Foundation grantees conference, I got to work with Nina Simon of Museum 2.0, an adviser and consultant to museums hoping to make their work and their spaces more socially connected. During the session, she underscored a rather striking point: For most of the middle to senior managers among us, Google is the common start page to our engagement with the web; for younger users, the start page is Facebook.
In other words, we tend to approach the web through a content search, while younger users (and increasingly older users) engage net content through the lens of their social networks. Recent Nielsen research suggests that social networks are surpassing e-mail in popularity. Now search and discovery is moving that way, as well. Says Nina:
Whereas the Web of the 2000s was dominated by search, we are entering a
time when more and more people are using social media as their gateway
to the Web…. The worldwide
market reach of social networks and other “member community sites” (as
Nielsen research deems
them) is growing rapidly, and it seems likely that Facebook and other
social networking sites will continue to attract older, more mainstream
audiences. This means that more and more people are “entering” the Web via social context.
Now that most arts organizations have established their web sites as “Google food” to ensure that folks who are looking for them will find them, we now have to consider more seriously the social path to discovering our organizations and our work. That suggests a very different way of engaging our organizations on-line.