Actually, offline social communities have been declining for decades ..
… Bridge & Bowling Clubs, Kiwanis, even the Masons are now in the ICU on life support!
Lets revisit 2000 when Robert D. Putnam published a book entitled Bowling Alone : The Collapse and Revival of American Community, The collapse and revival of American community. (Robert started expounding his theories earlier that that)
The book examined trends developing over the previous several decades.
There is considerable data to support Roberts theories.
Year 2000 facts – in the 2 decades leading up to 1997:
Membership of service organizations – median loss in 34 groups was 58%
Kiwanis lost 43%
Masons 71% (they claim it's not their fault!)
The Rotary Club discussed back in 2001 membership losses in their magazine The Rotarian
These trends have actually been accelerating faster and faster since 2000.
Part of the problem is strictly business, Richard Hogan, associate professor, sociology and American studies at Purdue University says:
"I think that AARP is very successful in recruiting people of our age, But, when it comes to joining the American Legion, what does that club have to offer? What is the incentive?"
"Before Social Security, people used (service clubs) to provide social insurance," said Hogan. Members agreed to help widows and families of fallen members. "But when Social Security came along, there was no longer the need for social insurance. So, what else are they (service clubs) providing?"
So what does that mean to you the Real Estate Professional?
If part of your marketing plan is to network at these sorts of groups and meetings it's time to rethink. If you really like the group and like giving back then by all means stick with it.
However, if you are just going to meetings for the networking, you might just want to rethink your strategy …
Tammy Erickson on The Harvard Business School site, discusses Social Tribes, From Bowling Alone to Facebook – or how Gen X'ers now in their 30's and 40's treat friends like family and look to them for support.
This is a great quote from Tammy:
Having a tribe — a comfortable community — is important. The family-like tribes (epitomized in the 90's by television shows Friends and Seinfeld) fill the role of bowling leagues and church socials for Gen X. Electronic forums make nurturing social these groups easier for us all.
Think about that for a second …
If the Gen X'ers are your target consumers, the ones you want to network with for future business, have already grouped together on Facebook – have you developed a clear strategy to communicate with them??
But it's not just Gen X'ers either, according to InsideFacebook.com:
Facebook is growing in every age/gender demographic. Fastest growing segment: Women over 55, up 175.3% in the last 120 days.
So what is your online strategy?
Do you have a plan for Facebook?
Have you set up a Facebook Fan Page?
Do you have a blog, if so are you targeting your niche?
Let us know what you intend to do to capture those online eyeballs!