Statistics show that social media usage among women, and men, of a certain age (read Boomers and older) is climbing rapidly. According to the Pew Internet study of Older Adults and Social Media, Half (47%) of internet users ages 50-64 and one in four (26%) users age 65 and older now use social networking sites. Yet there is a disconnect between the rising usage of social media networks and other tools for personal use and use of those same tools for business.
Baby Boomers, strong in number and loud of voice, are in decision making positions. We are doing much of the hiring, firing and evaluating in businesses and organizations. And somehow, many of us are not making the leap to business usage of social media–yet. In spite of mounting evidence of the efficacy of using social media tools, including social networks, video sharing, blogging and texting, to:
The term Baby Boomer typically describes men and women born between 1943 and 1962. Some of us, laughingly prefer to refer to ourselves as being “of a certain age” and we see ourselves as still youthful (still), vibrant and powerful–no matter how we are perceived by everyone else. We are the generation that came up with the Vietnam War, with television, what we now call “snail mail”, the Civil Rights movement, the liberated youth culture, radio and advertising that pushed commercial messages at us in every medium.
The race to be online, to share information, to connect across all boundaries feels alarming to many of us. The fast pace of the changes that take place online can overwhelm. Many of us have reached a certain position in our work and have become accustomed to doing things “the right way”, meaning doing things the way we were trained many years before. We have become skeptical about anything related to marketing or advertising and place great faith in the printed word or the six o’clock news. We are intimidated by the new technology and secretly believe that all this noise about digital this and online that and social whatever is just that: noise. Something the younger kids care about. A fad.
This mindset is not uncommon and takes patience to work with. Just last night a friend and I were commiserating about his frustration with colleagues of our generation, and how they were missing the importance of using social media tools to communicate with their customers during a particularly grueling customer service snafu. He felt that his colleagues were unwilling to move forward and were unwittingly making things harder for themselves.
I am often asked how I, at my age, have become so involved with social media and social networking. How is it I have learned all of this? And why?
I explain to people of my generation that the social networking done online closely resembles offline business networking. That sparks interest. It’s all the same stuff, I tell them. Human beings have not changed so much over thousands of years, I explain. Our instincts and motivations remain the same. We search for information, validation, connection, assistance and entertainment. We share what matters to us and what we find important. And slowly we learn how to use these new tools, how these social media benefit our businesses and organizations.
It is changing. Our world is changing and we are changing with it. Some of us reluctantly, some with great excitement and some of us kicking and screaming. The internet offers us a reflection of our humanity: the good, the bad, and the ugly. We can embrace these powerful tools and use them in both personal and business lives. And if it takes us a little longer to figure it out? No matter. What we bring to the table in terms of life experience and earned wisdom complements the rabid intelligence and high energy of younger generations.
Predictions are for increased us of social media in business. Some expect social media will replace traditional media in the next three to five years. Those of us of a certain age will continue to experiment with social media and social networking in our private lives and, because we want to stay relevant, we will pay attention to how the use of social in business is evolving. We’ll get there.
Do you need help understanding how social media tools can benefit your business or organization? We can help. Call us at 419.740.1262 or shoot us an email at [email protected]. We love this stuff and we can help integrate the new social tools into your existing marketing and public relations programs.
And I’m your age, so I can help you feel comfortable about taking this on. Follow me on Twitter and you’ll see what I mean.
Check out this video of the “Future Hipsters” for a quick chuckle. I loved it and you may also.
Future Hipster video courtesy of SocialMediaWeek.org