An Indictment of Dayton Young Professionals (All of Us)

Last Wednesday the Dayton Foundation held a video panel/tweetchat with local young professionals (YPs) and others in the community about how YPs can give to make an impact.

Many of the topics covered apply to everyone and how they can give to make an impact. One of the questions stole my attention.

How can we convince more figureheads and community leaders to be active in social media?

My answer to that (hint: young professionals), brought me back to a tweet I made a year ago, but more on that in a minute. Let’s talk social media.

I remember the day I got Facebook vividly.

It was winter break, I want to say the day after Christmas, and in came an email saying Sinclair students could now be a part of Facebook. Friend requests flew in (and out), and almost instantly a vast online community full of groups and new friendships was created seemingly overnight.

Speed up to present times, social media is huge. In 2011, Facebook alone was the size of THE ENTIRE INTERNET in 2004 when Facebook launched.

So what does that mean? In its simplest form, it means everyone is on Facebook. For the last 5 years the fastest growing demographic has fallen somewhere within the 50+ age group.

That brings me to Twitter specifically, but also LinkedIn.

Do you remember RSS feeds? Hopefully if you’re a YP or at least under 45 you know what one is. RSS aggregated feeds from sources you enjoyed in one place.

Today, Twitter has almost completely replaced that, but also with a great social and learning tool, hashtags.

It’s not hyperbole to say that twitter has been conducive to organizing revolutions across the world. YPs probably aren't looking for anything that serious, but we should definitely be sharing information and engaging in discussion about our future.

There are plenty of YP groups in Dayton. Generation Dayton, UpDayton, Beavercreek YPs, YPs at Austin Landing, HYPE. They’re all interested in advancing our community. Maybe not all, but most of the members also don’t mind having a good time and engaging in social events either.

So....why aren't there more people in these groups using Twitter? These are YOUNG PROFESSIONAL groups, not AARP Professionals.

In Dayton we like to compare our arts, our bike friendly designation, and our food to other bigger cities. Where do we stand with organized social media? It’s not pretty, like at all.

Twitter is a commodity almost completely untapped in our community. Most of the biggest LinkedIn groups in the area are ghost towns with at most, one post a week. Tweeting articles with zero commentary really doesn't advance conversation.

So my tweet may look a little harsh. Just know it was out of frustration (still is) because of the opportunity people my age have here.

What's so great about Twitter?

In healthcare there are weekly tweetchats I follow. One (#HCSM) is every Sunday discussing health care marketing and social media from the perspective of doctors, marketers and CEOs who all join up to talk the latest topics and share ideas. The other (#HCLDR) is every Wednesday to talk health care leadership and big picture ideas with the people who direct the every day moves of hospitals in an ever changing industry.

So what? You’re right, it’s irrelevant what I follow, but the point is, everything I have learned in the last 3 years about health care marketing has come from these discussions with thought leaders across the country. Anything I've done to help advance the organization I work for, was influenced by virtual conversations with people I've never met.

If you want to utilize the web in a way you haven’t, find out what hashtags apply to your industry and learn something. I promise you everything I have (very little) you will.

I also follow #dataviz, a hashtag of data visualizations. What does that have to do with Dayton? This map and this visualization show EVERY bike share program in the WORLD, and even how there stations are configured throughout those cities. Pretty relevant info for a city just waiting to launch their own bike share program.

How can we convince more figureheads and community leaders to be active in social media?

I think the answer is simple on paper. Young professional groups have to be so involved with social media that figureheads and community leaders have no choice. If they want in on the big conversations in town, they HAVE to be on social media.

Why do you think 50+ age groups in the last 5 years are the fastest growing on Facebook? They have no choice. That’s where millennials, their children, share their life.

How many times have you heard a young parent say something like, “Well, I posted the picture on Facebook, you could see your granddaughter if you used it.”

The same applies to community leaders. Why would they care to be involved in social media or a tweetchat, if no one in Dayton is on it?

I’m thankful for the video panel/tweetchat the Dayton Foundation put on Wednesday, but how many people actually posted using #YP4Good? Three. Three people.

That’s not an indictment of the Dayton Foundation, or the panel. That’s an indictment on our area’s young professionals as a whole.

We have to be better. I challenge the local YP groups to be better.

If you're on a committee or board, you're not on those to be quiet. So stop being quiet. Let's have dynamic conversations about the issues that face our community.

A lot of last wednesday’s discussion was about how to manage your time because many YPs are involved in a lot of activities.

YP groups, why not have a weekly tweetchat to discuss items? You can sit at home, your dog in your lap, watching New Girl AND be a part of a discussion on how we can make Dayton better.

YPs have to lead the way. And the good news is the bar isn't set very high, so any improvement is huge.

Two and a half years ago I fell in love with Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati. I was recently single and looking for a change and OTR was where I wanted to be.

Around that same time #ThisIsOTR took off. Not by area celebrities, city council members or businesses, but by a 20-year-old singer-songwriter resident of OTR. Check it out for well over 30k tweets, Instagram posts and insight into a once crime-ridden part of Cincinnati that in just 8 years has become the best neighborhood in Cincy three years running.

Cox Media tried to launch #DaytonSummer and it seemed like 95% of the posts, were businesses encouraging people to use the hashtag. Business cannot drive people to twitter, we YPs have that responsibility.

Without Jordan Hockett's (@_jhock) Dayton Baton, Dayton would be a barren wasteland in the social media space.

A handful of YPs can make strides using a megaphone to promote the power of twitter and social media as a whole, but that hasn't worked. Leaders among YP groups need to realize that, yes, this applies to them. When called to act, leaders have one option, they act.

I hope that they do, and I hope that as a community we do.