New media

Question: What took 89 years for the telephone; 38 years for the television; and 14 years for the cell phone?  The answer? How long it took for each of these communication devices to be adopted by 150 million users.

In only five years Facebook has attracted more than 175 millon users – and it’s not just for college kids anymore.  This “social media” network has captured the attention of everyone from grandmothers to corporations.  It has also captured the time of many an innocent Web-surfer.  A CNN.Money/Fortune magazine article says:

Try logging in to quickly check a message, and you may find yourself scrolling through new baby photos from that guy who used to sit next to you in Mr. Peterson’s English class.  Soon you’re checking the friends you have in common. This addictive quality keeps Facebook’s typical user on the site for an average of 169 minutes a month, according to ComScore. Compare that with Google News, where the average reader spends 13 minutes a month checking up on the world, or the New York Times Web site, which holds on to readers for a mere ten minutes a month.

You can read the whole article here.

Half of the population of the USA has a Facebook account and more than 3 billion minutes are spent on Facebook every day.

So how can you use this to promote your downtown?  The general idea is that you want to help people connect to your downtown; the services, the special events, the retail promotions and the whole neighborhood feeling. 

In short, you want them to be friends with your downtown.  There are some inherent shortcomings of using Facebook for promotions, but only you can decide if this free outlet will be worthwhile to you.

Here are some examples of how some designated Virginia Main Streets are doing it (be forewarned, you’ll have to sign up to view them):

Staunton; Lynchburg; Harrisonburg; Martinsville; and Martinsville again.