Ms. Rose

ADA Compliance

Does Your Social Media Plan Include the ADA Community?

By Clara Rose, President & Creative Director, Creative Alliance

Social media allows anyone with an internet connection (web based or mobile) to interact with others in a personal or anonymous fashion and to engage in a non-threatening way. For consumers with different abilities, the benefits are even more profound since it offers them opportunities for participation.

As the internet has morphed from an informational only resource to a more conversational style of interaction; the growth in social media interaction has become a tidal wave. Consumers can now enjoy the benefits that come from engaging with goods and services providers as well as socializing, enjoying entertainment or even working from a remote location or at home.

How Connected is Our Society?

The impact of social networking is having a lasting and probably permanent effect on our society. A few years ago Facebook was dismissed by many as a place where kids hung out to share pictures and complain about school. Today, with more than 600 million users worldwide, it is a hub of communication and a force for change.

Around 200 million people connect on Twitter; some companies are taking full advantage of real-time advertising with Twitter. Tweeting about a special deal as it happens can cause a tweet to go viral and gain nationwide exposure - as friends tell their friends. Money cannot buy this coveted word of mouth advertising.

LinkedIn boasts more than 175 million users with a new member every second of the day; it has also drastically changed Human Resources and hiring practices. Potential employees can hinder or help them with career advancements based on their social networking profiles and interactions. Perhaps arguably a privacy violation - but the practice is common.

For those that live and die by the statistic, the experts over at Digital Marketing Ramblings just posted (October 4th 2012) some mind numbing statistics about current social media site numbers.

  • Facebook: 1 billion users; 600 mobile users; 42 million pages and 9 million apps

  • outube: 4 billion views per day

  • Google+: 400 million registered users

  • Skype: 250 million monthly connected users

  • Shazam: 250 million users; 5 billion tags

  • Ortsbo: 212 million unique users

  • LinkedIn: 175 million users

  • Badoo: 162 million users

  • Tumblr: 150 million users

  • Twitter: 140 million users

  • Ebay: 100 million active users

  • Instagram: 100 million registered users, 4 billion photos

  • SoundHound: 100 million users

  • Viber: 100 million users

  • Yelp: 78 million users; 30 million reviews

  • Flickr: 75 million users

  • WordPress: 74 million blogs

  • Voxer: 70 million users

  • Tango: 65 million users

  • Socialcam: 56 million monthly users

  • Pandora: 54.9 million users

  • Dropbox: Over 50 million users

  • Steam: 50 million users

  • Viddy: 39 million users

  • Groupon: 36.9 million users

  • Reddit: 35 million users, 1.8 billion monthly page views

  • Evernote: 34 million users

  • Spotify: 33 million active monthly users

  • Branchout: 30 million users

  • Stumbleupon: 25 million users, 1 billion monthly page referrals

  • MySpace: 25 million users

  • foursquare: 25 million users, 1 million businesses

  • Pinterest: 20 million users

  • Flipboard: 20 million users

  • Change.org: 20 million users

  • Pulse: 15 million users

  • Fotopedia: 14 million users

  • Vimeo: 12.6 million users

  • box.net: 12 million users

  • Goodreads: 10 million users

  • Soundcloud: 10 million users

  • Mint.com: 10 million users

  • Rdio: 10 million users

  • Edmodo: 10 million users

These statistics are not guaranteed by the fine folks at Digital Marketing Ramblings and they point out that this list is in no way all inclusive. This is only the top producers and more sites join the ranks each month. Of course most companies focus their marketing efforts on the giants; Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

In 1929 Frigyes Karinthy wrote about a connection concept. He theorized that any two people in the world could be connected by way of introduction through acquaintances; in six short steps, commonly known as six degrees of separation. Recent research done by Facebook and the University of Milan concluded that people are only separated by 4.74 degrees, making the old saying "six degrees of separation" now obsolete. Indeed this is a connected society.

Consider this statistic; people (and businesses too) are only a click away from extending their reach and connections ten-fold. With so many people connecting through social media, it can hardly be ignored. Is the ADA Community Relevant?

According to the U.S. Department of Justice's ADA statistics, 18% of all Americans fall under the ADA provisions, with that number steadily increasing. That is almost 20% of the population that might have effective communication barriers.

In many cases social media can remove the communication barriers and help ensure that participation is possible for those with different abilities. Social media can also be used as a non-threatening way for people with a mental health issue to engage with others online. A research study found that people with a mental health issue are increasingly turning to sites such as Facebook to meet people.

Despite the obvious benefits of including those with different abilities, most social media tools remain inaccessible to some degree but users in the ADA community are finding ways around these obstacles.
Most popular computers and mobile devices now come with accessibility features built-in, others enable free downloadable accessibility tools for those interested.

The addition of assistive technologies is increasingly expanding the reach and access of the ADA community into the hospitality industry. Assistive technologies used by those with different abilities, such as a screen reader for a person that is visually impaired, an on-screen keyboard for a person that is mobility impaired or a playback of captioned video for a person who is hearing impaired, are tools that are making a difference.

In addition to these devices, there are things the hospitality industry can do with their websites and on their social media platforms to make a difference as well.

  • Offer alternative text for non-text content

  • Use captions and alternatives for multimedia content

  • Use content that can be presented in different ways

  • Use larger print with good contrast and clear audio

  • Avoid flashing content that may cause seizures

  • Offer keyboard functionality options

  • Allow enough time to read moving content

  • Use clear and predictable navigation

  • Offer clear steps and directions for interacting

Alternative website, mobile apps, keyboard shortcuts and online support groups are paving the way toward greater access for those with different abilities. A rich source of expertise and social media users with different abilities, continue to find creative ways to access the most popular platforms.

Hospitality Business Impact

Erik Qualman, blogger and author of Socialnomic: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business, had these interesting facts to share this year:

  • 50% of the earth's population is under 30 years old

  • Generation Y now out numbers the Baby Boomers

  • 97% of Generation Y is engaged in social media

  • LinkedIn signs up a new member every second

  • Facebook has twice the "population" of the United States

  • Ford found that launching their new Explorer on Facebook was more effective than running a Super Bowl commercial.

  • Social media activity now exceeds the traffic to adult web sites

Once completely reliant on mass marketing channels for advertising; the hospitality industry can now embrace the power of the customer by engaging in conversations with them on social networks and bypassing the gatekeepers of traditional media.

Consumers, including those from the ADA community, are now demanding that hospitality businesses have a social media presence. They want to connect, ask questions, get advice or leave comments on a blog. It has become clear that the ability to facilitate direct interactions with consumers and communities is now a necessity. Connect with your customers or your competitor will.

Social media has been cited by industry experts as having a significant impact on communication between consumers and business entities. Customers are talking and the big brand names are starting to listen.

Corporations of all sizes can now strip away the perceived detachment between their business and customers, creating a human connection that has proven to boost sales and consumer confidence. Social media is changing the way business gets done in the hospitality industry.

The ever increasing surge in social media has created an exciting new world for the marketing and public relation professionals of the hospitality industry, as well as the business world as a whole. There is no doubt that it has already changed the world forever by connecting people from all walks of life; what they are able to do with that connection will undoubtedly continue to change and grow.

There are still individuals who doubt the power and usefulness of social media but the possibilities are endless for the advancement of technology and for humanity to be more connected than ever, regardless of their abilities.

Traditional Marketing and advertising will always be an important part of any business plan, but the current trends toward social media advertising is forging a new era in customer expectations. With a steady increase in consumer demand for more information and interaction, it might be time to consider social media.

Once thought of as a passing fad or internet phenomenon, social media is now firmly ingrained in the culture. Like it or hate it, social media has become a part of most marketing strategies in the hospitality industry and is here to stay.

Clara Rose is the founder of Creative Alliance and co-founder of Nationwide Compliance Alliance. She believes that business success is not accidental, merely the implementation of a sound strategy and the correct tools. Ms. Rose finds great reward in equipping entrepreneurs and business owners with the tools and pieces for business success. As a professional speaker, trainer and author; Clara works with teams to help them create a culture of understanding and sensitivity in the workplace and equips professionals with tools and insights. Additionally, she speaks and writes about the different forms of communication that are an integral part of business life with Customers, Colleagues and Co-workers. Ms. Rose can be contacted at 941-284-8640 or Clara@ClaraRose.com Extended Bio...

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