Commentary: Rethink Who Uses the Internet and How

If you still think the Web is mainly for kid games, sports scores and ordering the cheapest possible airline tickets, watch out! According to a multi-year tracking survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project (www.pewinternet.org), the Web continues to be populated by younger generations - over half the adult internet population in the U.S. is between 18 and 44 years old. But today 72 percent of Americans age 50-64 use the Internet; 82 percent of those between 30-49 years old do.
 
Those older than 44 are using the Internet more and doing more activities online, the survey says. Not surprisingly, older generations use the Internet less for socializing and entertainment, and more as a tool for information searches, emailing and buying ...

If you still think the Web is mainly for kid games, sports scores and ordering the cheapest possible airline tickets, watch out! According to a multi-year tracking survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project (www.pewinternet.org), the Web continues to be populated by younger generations – over half the adult internet population in the U.S. is between 18 and 44 years old. But today 72 percent of Americans age 50-64 use the Internet; 82 percent of those between 30-49 years old do.
 
Those older than 44 are using the Internet more and doing more activities online, the survey says. Not surprisingly, older generations use the Internet less for socializing and entertainment, and more as a tool for information searches, emailing and buying products. For Americans between 25-64, broadband access at home about doubled between 2005 and 2008.

What does this migration to high-speed Internet across age groups mean for your business? Ask Internet-savvy associates in your company where you stand with a few key questions.
 
Are there opportunities missed because a segment of customers is not able to communicate with your company the way they want to? Have you probed beyond the one or two primary points of vendor contact at your best customers to identify how online they really are?
 
Internally, are there ways to save money and gain efficiency through moving what has always gone through the mailbox to the inbox? Is your company using online tools like Google Alerts (www.google.com/alerts) to stay on top of what’s happening in your market and industry? Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (Web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic. You can set it up to email you as news happens, daily or once a week. Track your competitors, customers and largest suppliers. It will trigger the latest news stories and mentions online.
 
And if you think online networks are for teenagers only, see what’s happening on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com). Search for (and join) Modern Distribution Management’s Independent Distributor Network. You’ll find the latest industry newsfeed from MDM, as well as ongoing industry discussions. LinkedIn has exploded in the past year and is business-focused. There is a diverse and growing community of distributors, manufacturers and associations, such as STAFDA, PTDA and NAED’s TED Magazine.
 
Not convinced it’s worth your time? I’ll give you a value report card in six months on how our network and others have grown. That’s a long time in Internet years!

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