Social media researcher Danah Boyd recently concluded a study where she found that low-income, less educated, and minority youth are more likely to use Myspace, and white, well educated, wealthy youth are more likely to use Facebook. If Boyd is right, then why are so many non-profits choosing Facebook over Myspace?
Assuming the purpose of social media is simply to raise funds, then it seems engaging Facebook over Myspace makes sense. Facebook users are wealthier, and applications like Causes help non-profits raise funds within Facebook. But if we are to use social media to actually reach out to help people, Boyd's research indicates that MySpace is a more logical forum.
Boyd likens the divergent demographics of MySpace and Facebook users to suburban white-flight. She argues:
Whites were more likely to leave or choose Facebook. The educated were more likely to leave or choose Facebook. Those from wealthier backgrounds were more likely to leave or choose Facebook. Those from the suburbs were more likely to leave or choose Facebook. Those who deserted MySpace did so by "choice" but their decision to do so was wrapped up in their connections to others, in their belief that a more peaceful, quiet, less-public space would be more idyllic."
If indeed Facebook is akin to the wealthy suburbs, then non-profits focusing on elaborate Facebook profiles is perhaps as logical as building a shelter mega center in Beverly Hills. As low-income youth engage technology through sites like MySpace, the non-profit sector should expand it's use of technology past fundraising to provide direct services to people in need.
(Photo by swanksalot)