Omaha ranks below average in social media savvy

Posted by Gina Pappas on March 25, 2011 | Comments (1)

I’m a life-long Omahan. I was born here, attended Omaha Westside high school and graduated from college just 50 minutes away in Lincoln. My entire professional career has been spent in Omaha, and that’s how I like it. I’m proud of my Omaha roots and, although I know it can’t compete with New York City or Los Angeles for “cool points,” I’m somebody who has always believed that Omaha had more to offer than meets the eye.

That’s why my first reaction was to dismiss the poll conducted by Men’s Health grading Omaha’s social media presence a C-. I figured it was an opinion poll conducted by a slick magazine that saw Omahans as a bunch of cow-tipping, socially inept hicks. As somebody who considers herself in touch with what’s happening locally in social and new media, this poll seemed full of hooey.

Then I read this article from Mashable, and saw that the results are actually rooted in real data. Men’s Health obtained each city’s Facebook and LinkedIn users per capita, and then used a marketing database to determine each city’s overall Twitter usage. After that, they quantified traffic from various other social mediums using Chitika, and lastly used SimplyMap to identify the percentage of households using chat rooms and blogs. Throw it in a blender, mix it up and out comes Omaha with a big, fat C-.

Another Midwest city (one that admittedly may exceed Omaha in “cool points”) ranked near the top of the list at an A+. That city was Minneapolis, where business and social media consultant Albert Maruggi runs Provident Partners, a full-service marketing firm. We’ve worked with Albert on one of our accounts for the past few years, and I was curious to get his perspective on the differences between Minneapolis and Omaha in terms of social media.

Albert attributes Minneapolis’ high ranking to a few factors. For one, the city is home to a large advertising community anchored by several Fortune 500 companies ranging across consumer and business products. If those companies want to maintain their status as a Fortune 500 company, they had darn well better be using social media in some way, shape or form to reach their target audience.

Another factor Albert sees is Minneapolis’ cold climate. That may sound funny, but think about it – if you’re indoors, there’s a good chance you’re on a computer or using a mobile device, either for work or pleasure. Less time outside means more time keeping up with business and personal contacts inside.

Albert feels that Omaha’s social media community is harder to penetrate that Minneapolis’ but, as he pointed out, the hub of Silicon Prairie News and Big Omaha should surely count toward a higher grade than a C-. I concur.

Albert also pointed out social media is not mainstream. Not yet, at least. In his words, “Anyone who tries to argue that social media is mainstream by saying that Facebook is the third largest country in the world does not have the same context as a retail store owner on Main Street.” Will social media reach the point where that store owner develops a social media strategy as part of his fiscal year projections? I think so. But is Omaha there yet? No, we’re not.

But, there is hope. As I look out the window and see snow flying on the fifth day of spring, I am thinking the cold snap may keep us Omahans indoors, Tweeting away like our friends to the north.




  • albert maruggi says:

    Thanks Gina, appreciate the hat tip. A couple of other thoughts as I read the piece. There is a core group of people that care enough to keep trying new things. Whether it’s Rick Mahn and the Social Media Breakfast or Tim Brunelle and his Conversations About the Future of Advertising, or what we are doing with Social Media Club, there is a core group of a couple of hundred people willing to support each other. That creates the synergy to attract others to grow and stay fresh. That’s cool.

    As far as the weather, we do have the best mall in the country, Props to Mall of America (MOA)

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