Did Social Media Kill the Phone Tree?
When I first came across the tweet above it made me first think, of MTV's first aired video by Buggles, but then more seriously about the question being posed. Is Call-Em-All doomed - to be replaced by 140 character messages and likes? Hardly! And I've got the stats to back it up.
No doubt our society is connected more because of technology than in any time before. Just ask Jenna how fast she gets her friend requests. But as mobile carriers are pushing the latest smartphones, the perception is that everyone has one. While that might be the case in ten years, it isn't the case now according to stats PEW released in their latest study of mobile technology. According to PEW's research just 56% of American adults own a smartphone. And sure, there is a pretty good chance those 56% will have at least an account on one of the major social media platforms. I don't know about you, but when I want to reach someone, I'd like to be able to reach everyone, not just half. Still not seeing the downside of relying solely on social media? It's all about feed.
The inherent problem of real-time updates is that as those updates age they move down your feed to be replaced by the latest posts. And even worse, Facebook thinks it knows what you want to see, sometimes not showing all your friends' posts and severely limiting the display of group and page updates in news feeds as well. Sure you can curate your news feed, but man that is a lot of work to make sure you get the latest update from someone who might know about a schedule change or closure because of a snow storm. And let's not forget, if you are the one posting the message you are hoping that everyone is going to see it in time and scroll down their feed far enough to get past all the Justin Bieber posts. I wouldn't want to try it, but can you imagine trying to tag everyone in a Facebook post or the number of tweets filled with @'s it would take to send it out to everyone?
What seemingly gets lost in the smartphone craze is that they are just that, phones. They are, at their core, the same as the Nokia bricks and cool Motorola flip phones that let you get a phone call or receive a text message wherever you were. No joke, 91% of all American adults own a cell phone.
The 65+ generations are pulling the average down, with, what I thought was, a very impressive 76%. That means 91% of American adults are accessible with technology pioneered in 1876, but this time it'll ring in their pocket. How's that for instant notifications?
Going back to Scott's nostalgic tweet of missing the phone tree, I can only assume he was referring to the days when at the first PTA meeting or first soccer practice, your part of the tree was handed to you. While this practice has been replaced, I hope, (if not, please, for the sake of the actual trees used to print the paper contact us) with an automated service making the need for individuals to call down their list a thing of the past. Now the district manager can place a call to all parents letting them know school is delayed or closed because of weather or the soccer coach can let all the parents know that practice has been moved to the field furthest away. Regardless of the actual message, you can be confident it isn't being lost in their feed. Social media, and technology for that matter, hasn't killed the phone tree. Technology has just made it a lot easier to be managed by those people that depend on getting a message out.
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