Digital Access & Social Media In The Jewish Audience
There are many misconceptions about the Jewish audience in general. One of the most significant of these in the marketing context revolves around digital access & social media in the Jewish audience, especially for the more orthodox segments. When discussing marketing an offering with a business unfamiliar with the Jewish demographic, it is not uncommon that there is a mistaken belief about the culture and prevailing attitudes concerning technology. Specifically, the wrong impression is that computers, smartphones, and social media use are highly unusual and almost nonexistent in the Orthodox Jewish communities, similar to what life is like among particular Amish communities. The reality is quite contrary, and smartphones and internet use are quite prevalent even amongst the Orthodox segments. In this discussion, we dispel misconceptions and overview the Jewish audience’s usage and habits regarding the internet, social media, and digital technologies in general.
The Jewish Audience Is Not A Monolith
The starting point for understanding internet access among the broader Jewish audience is establishing that the community is not a monolith. Beyond the core distinctions that might be readily obvious relating to religious observance or geographic location, more subtle differences may not be apparent from an outside perspective. For example, while Orthodox Jews are often viewed as a singular group to the world at large, there are fundamental differences between various streams of orthodoxy, including when it comes to internet access and overall digital infiltration. To illustrate, digital and internet, in general, might be more uncommon in very religious sects of Hasidism, such as parts of Satmar. On the other hand, increasingly, many Orthodox such as those living in Lakewood, NJ (beyond those termed as Modern Orthodox), have significant internet access.
Smartphone & Technology Presence
While we are not aware of recent and extensive statistics about the percentage of varying Jewish populations using smartphones, in our view, smartphone and technology use has seen exponential growth in the last few years. As the internet was increasingly seeing widespread adoption in the earlier part of the 2000s, in the orthodox communities, there was pushback, especially from leaders in the community. Moving further into the years of 2010-2020 though, there was a marked change. With the internet playing a rapidly increasing role in people’s lives, for both business, personal, and even religious motivations, the fight against the widespread adoption of smartphones and related technology was increasingly considered unfeasible by many. The way things stand today, we do not have exact percentages, but among the more religious segments, including parts of what is termed the “Yeshivish” and “Hasidic,” have pretty large portions of their populations connected to the internet in some form or another. Beyond these most Orthodox communities, smartphones are practically in every Jewish person’s pocket from the Modern Orthodox and beyond, including the unaffiliated, Conservative, and Reform.
While many of the most Orthodox communities have broad-based adoption of the internet and technology, some nuances differentiate the general population segments. For example, generally, adults will be the ones with smartphones and internet connections, while younger children are less likely to have such devices when compared to non-Jewish children of the same age.
Overall, we find the Orthodox Jewish audience segments to be very enthusiastic about new technology offerings. Especially if the technology offers the capability for customizations, including for the placement of safety filters that account for community concerns, there is an excellent opportunity for technology products and services to market to a concentrated and interested customer base.
Social Media Use
Beyond just smartphones and the internet, contrary to some of the preconceptions we hear from those unfamiliar with the more religious segments of the Jewish community, there is a thriving and rapidly growing social media culture. From the numerous Jewish influencers that are mostly found on Instagram currently to upstarts on TikTok and other platforms, the varying social media platforms are great ways for brands to build followings. Further, utilizing the various targeted advertising strategies and tools and Jewish influencer marketing can also provide strong returns in our experience. From the non-affiliated Jewish social media personalities to even Hasidic influencers, such as Raizy’s Cooking, there is a way to reach practically any cross-section of the wider Jewish audience.
Also, especially in light of the enormous troves of data points, Jewish advertising on Facebook utilizing their in-depth targeting capabilities via the Power Editor is of significant value in reaching such a niche audience as the Jewish one that is quite active on Facebook’s properties and particularly Instagram.
A Rapidly Evolving Landscape & Going Forward
As we progress further into the Fourth Industrial Revolution and our lives, get further intertwined with technology in general and the internet specifically, we expect to see increased adoption in the Jewish community. This trend, combined with the great enthusiasm we see from the broader Jewish audience for new technologies that can bring value to their lives, signals the solid opportunity for market offerings in this space. For the outside observer not familiar with the nuances of the Jewish audience, though, it is essential to account for the offering at hand and its optimal audience. Once the right Jewish audience is identified, it is necessary to dive into whether it is strategic to utilize internet-based digital platforms to reach the desired audience. Most often, though, based on our experience, reaching the Jewish audience, even the most Orthodox, can be most effectively and efficiently accomplished via digital platforms as these segments are present. Lastly, the landscape is quite dynamic, so the platforms of popularity are bound to change, so what may have been a good strategy even 2-3 years ago may not currently be the best choice presently.