Two billion Internet users are not on Facebook

That cartoon comes from an article chillingly titled Facebook Tracks Non Users Too. My life since defriending social media has been bliss. Gone is the endlessly recycled anti-Brexit and anti-Trump juvenilia*, the up-close-and-personal selfies from critics I have no desire to get up-close-and-personal with, the daily plugs for crowdfunded projects, and Norman Lebrecht's fake news. And what a pleasure not having all those egos strutting across my computer screen.

But life without social media does have its downsides. One is that I have lost touch with some people I respect and would prefer to remain in contact with. Those I regret losing contact with are people far more talented than me, and far more important to the future of art music. Such is the degree of the music industry's social media addiction that today very little is updated except Facebook and Twitter. So, sadly, with my social media accounts deleted it is now almost impossible for me to find out what gigs these musicians are playing and what recordings they are releasing, and it is therefore impossible to share that information with appreciative readers.

These absent virtual friends are among the billions who have been seduced by the ease of use and instant gratification of Facebook and other social networks. Handing control of their careers and lives over in this way is dangerously myopic. Not because of the insidious business practices of the social media corporations - it is a personal choice whether to embrace or reject these practices. Adopting Facebook as a default communication platform is potentially harmful because it ignores a very large audience.

A surprisingly large proportion of the global population is not on social media: of the 7.2 billion people in the world 2.2 billion of them are on Facebook. Worldwide there are 4.2 billion Internet users: so restricting communications to Facebook means ignoring just under half - 2 billion users - of the global internet audience, and those statistics should also be read in the context of a slowing in the growth of Facebook's active user base. Although it is difficult to believe, there is life beyond social media. For instance China is being acclaimed as the big new exciting market for classical music. But has anyone told all those orchestras paying big bucks to social media consultancies that China's 772 million internet users cannot access Facebook because it is banned there?

Addressing Facebook non-users as well as users increases the target audience by 327%. If this post revealed how to boost a target audience by 327% through leveraging social media, I would be buried under invitations to speak at Classical:NEXT, the Association of British Orchestras conference and at other stops for the classical music gravy train. But suggesting audiences can be grown by targeting social media non-users will, I wager, not generate any reaction at all. The music industry is, once again, confusing accessibility - ease of access - with reach - breadth of access. Websites, mailing shots, blogs, word of mouth, email, and other refreshingly algorithm-free communication platforms have not disappeared. They have just been erased from every marketing plan by Mark Zuckerberg. So come on Ali, Kelly, Nawab, Ross, Antonis, and others. Facebook is not the only game in town.

* Please note I voted 'remain'. New Overgrown Path posts are available via RSS/email by entering your email address in the right-hand sidebar. Any copyrighted material is included for critical analysis, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).


Pliable said…
Nobody in the music industry cares -

But at least the Finanacial Times newsfeed does -

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