Internet means diversification of communication

March 5, 2012

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 I am David Renner the new digital employee at FH Frankfurt's office. So I work a lot concerning social media and online trends. To give you a short description: My main task is to support other practice groups to integrate these communication channels in their daily work. Of course, in my leisure time I am very active on social networks and I am always looking for new interesting topics online. For me, social media are the best way to interact with other people. Hence, I am very happy to be a new author for this blog.

I guess the most important question to answer before writing my first blog post was: Why is it important to write about “communications issues that affect the LGBT community”? By looking through all the posts which had already been contributed to this blog, I became quickly aware that this is indeed an interesting topic to consider.

Nowadays, it is not anymore the question if you may or can technically target LGBT community. Communication strategists think all about how to target them best and for what purposes. This is a very interesting point, because we should not take this situation for granted; 20 years ago there has not been a lot of LGBT content in media (often in a negative way) neither were gays or lesbians targeted by marketing strategies. That did not change by the liberalization of laws as you might think. This already started in the end 60s in Germany (with the revision of Paragraph 175 of the German Criminal Code in 1969). But the change on media started with the revolution of the internet that enabled a liberalization and diversification of the media landscape. For me this is a very essential point. Therefore, I want to start my first post discussing this question: What did the internet change for LGBT communication and what are we heading?

I cannot really say if the liberalization of the society had a bigger impact on media communication or the other way around. This would be talking about whether the hen or the egg came first, but I guess it is a kind of interdependency. But anyway you even see in countries which are not as liberal as Western societies that you always find an interacting LGBT community online, of course in a lower scale. But it is almost impossible to stop people expressing their opinions on the internet. For that reason I came to the conclusion that online communication affects LGBT community building positively and again I want to underline my argument: The evolution of the internet with all its different channels is one of the main reasons that communication to and by the LGBT community is actually possible.

This is not very surprising in my point of view because internet communication is not comparable to classical media channels. First of all you don't have material restrictions (like limited amount of papers) or you don't have to plan a program that targets a broad part of the population to generate big audience rates. But what is even more important almost everybody can access to the internet without restrictions of an editorial gatekeeper or guideline. Usually you cannot print your own newspaper and deliver it to a specific target group or you go on broadcasting your radio or TV program. Online you can do just that. We find niches for almost every sort of topic with an own community around, since everybody who has an internet access can afford it. Internet means diversification of communication processes and this is the main advantage. The internet gave a voice to LGBT community as a part of society to express their needs and demands. It made it possible to build up an active online community which is also visible in mainstream news.

Consequently to this evolution, a lot of LGBT platforms literally “came out” in the last years and the big traffic on these platforms shows that there has been a big demand for them. For example, the biggest news portal in Germany (queer.de) indicates 900.000 visits a month and over 11 million page impressions. Online dating community “GayRomeo” currently has 379.613 registered profiles in Germany. Media channels made the community more visible to society and helped to create sensitivity for all the topics referring to LGBT. Because of this new visibility on the internet these topics do not stay in those niches. I sometimes become aware of topics that swap from LGBT channels to mainstream news and are discussed openly for a broad audience e.g. demands for more civil rights. I doubt that this would have been possible without this diversification.

Another point from a public relations perspective is that online communication does not only effect greater adoption of LGBT platforms but make it also possible to target them directly. You can argue if this is a convenience or if you should rather stick to mass media like television that have big rates because you might cover them anyway. But to put it in a nutshell internet meant a lot to smaller parts of the society especially to the LGBT community. It is now possible for the community to send its messages and get targeted organizations directly.

The internet provided should be used properly and this is one point I am really interested in. In my next posts I want to think about this question and start looking for answers how the internet could be used to improve communication to and by the LGBT community. But first I want to discuss with you: What do you think about the impact of the internet on the LGBT community? Maybe you think about some different benefits or you completely disagree with my point. Then it would be interesting to read your arguments.