America's TV viewers a challenge for tech stars

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's 23-year-old CEO, is a star in tech circles.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's 23-year-old CEO, is a star in tech circles. The Web site he founded as a student is considered one of the hottest properties on the Internet, with one of the most demographically desirable user bases to be found anywhere. Zuckerberg's every utterance is parsed by technology reporters, bloggers, and business moguls looking for hints as to where the future of his company may lie.

But, apparently, he is not very popular with TV viewing audiences. A profile of Zuckerberg this month on 60 Minutes - which could be considered his coming out party to the average American - ended up pulling in a disappointing 9.6 million viewers, as compared to an average of 14.3 million. The average American television viewer, it seems, really couldn't care less about a 23-year-old kid with a popular Web site.

The current division between audiences does not necessarily represent an unbridgeable gap. But communicators should note the disparate interests between audiences when developing their outreach strategies. Zuckerberg's poor showing raises the distinct impression that the online and offline worlds have very divergent ideas regarding what is interesting.

A few mitigating factors - the relatively old age of 60 Minutes' audience and an NFL playoff game on Fox at the same time - should certainly be considered. But the show has a good record of pulling in viewers for things they really care about - whether a serious investigation of a government scandal, or a puffy celebrity profile.

The bifurcation of media interests provides a challenge to communicators working to promote entities across multiple platforms. What appears to work for the online audience might not among TV viewers. Opportunities may seem to exist everywhere, but one medium's star could be another's explanation for a poor audience.

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