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Posts Tagged ‘baby boomers

I began 2009 working in a corporate communications environment for a Fortune 500 company. After losing my job in May, I immersed myself completely in social media marketing. In part, to stay current in my field, but also to create a brand identity in a unusually competitive job market.

Soon after, I began giving presentations to networking groups on how to use social media to enhance the job search process. It seemed like an overwhelming majority of the audience were baby boomers. Surprisingly, the learning went both ways, and I learned almost as much from them about how our generation feels about Web 2.0 technology. You could say their negative views stem from frustration with their jobless situation. Perhaps. But, I’ve found even many of my employed clients, and clients who are business owners hold similar views about using social media.

So, for this year end post, I took a light-hearted look back at 10 things baby boomers taught me about social media:

  1. No matter how passionate I am about it, or what it can offer, many are not eager or ready to adopt this new technology. Among their reservations is a general discomfort with having their personal information out there. A concern not shared by our children and grandchildren. (Watch this video to get an understanding why social media fascinates Gen Y. Does this help?)
  2. Just because they use LinkedIn or Facebook, doesn’t mean they know what a blog is. (My bad for thinking everyone online knows what a blog is.)
  3. Don’t assume they want to use social media. They may be looking to enhance their job search, or their current job requires them to use it, but they don’t necessarily WANT to add it to their daily routine.
  4. Using social media is a complete waste of time. Tweeting is for those who have nothing better to do than talk about what they had for lunch. (A few maintained its uselessness even after we discussed how critical it is to the Iran election movement, in finding a new job, and for law enforcement agencies in repossession of cars and for catching thieves.) 
  5. They think I’m either a tech-savvy boomer, or an annoying mutant who tweets often and finds reasons to update my LinkedIn status every day. I’ll let you decide this one.
  6. Social media doesn’t apply to them since they don’t have a reason to tweet. Besides, once their profile is set up in LinkedIn, recruiters and hiring managers will search and find them anyway, right? 
  7. They use my presentation time as a platform to tell everyone attending how pointless social media is.
  8. Social media is just a fad, so they’ll just wait it out. (Do you share this view? Check out this video and leave me a comment.)
  9. Extremely-introverted personalities have finally found a way to network without ever having to leave the house.
  10. They forgot they grew up in the 1960s. Sally Kane with Jobs.com describes the baby boomer generation as “…confident, independent and self-reliant. This generation grew up in an era of reform and believe they can change the world. They questioned established authority systems and challenged the status quo.”

Does Sally Kane’s description fit you? Do you think Chez Pazienza of the Huffington Post has reason to rant about us? Or, is Paul Krassner correct in saying that baby boomers and hippies are not the same? How about Tim Engstrom? Whatever way you think — just think. We don’t want anyone saying our generation is afraid of change. You know what I mean. Like some folks from a previous generation who were reluctant to learn how to use a computer. Will fear of the unknown keep us from trying something new, even if it enhances our lives — socially or financially, or can bring us closer to our children and grandchildren, family or friends?

Let’s begin 2010 with a new philosophy to move outside our comfort zone. We can still be online and keep our personal information safe. We’ll use the wisdom and knowledge we’ve gained to do it right. Let’s not forgot how our generation almost saved the world. (If you’re reading my post, you know what a blog is — so you’re already ahead of the curve.)

It’s predicted that 2010 will be a wave of transparency in business. I predict that social media use (much like e-mail) will move from the office to our homes and become an integral part of our daily lives, in some form. Ready or not.

I end this post with a thought-provoking video about social media and privacy. The best way boomers can protect themselves online is with knowledge. Social media is one source to offer us a “collective wisdom.” It gives us a world of knowledge we’ve never before had access to and in a matter of seconds.

If you’re a baby boomer who uses social media, what convinced you to begin using it ?

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Yesterday, waiting for my lunch appointment to arrive, I watched a young man behind the counter texting to a friend between customers. My first reaction was dismay. Shortly after, I realized it is his generation who will be teaching our generation about customer relationships.  Gen Y pierceA little scary? Maybe.

Reverse mentoring 
It only seems scary because we’re used to an older generation assuming the mentor role in work environments. Traditionally, it’s the high-seniority professionals showing the younger, less experienced mentees the ropes. 

However, if you’re of the Baby Boom Generation, you’ve probably noticed a reverse mentoring trend happening in the workplace. It’s essentially Gen Y (also known as Millennials) mentoring the well-established, more experienced workforce, as opposed to the other way around. The trend is most noticeable in professional fields where technology is an integral part of the work environment.  

What Gen Y is telling us
Although no one seems to agree exactly where Gen Y starts and stops (late 1970s – late 1990s), it is a fact that it is the largest generation (approximately 80 million) to hit the American market since the Baby Boomers.

Gen Y are digital natives, meaning digital technology already existed when they were born. They can easily multi-task between searching the Internet, listening to music on their MP3, texting on their mobile phone, while TV is playing in the background.

Growing up amid a high-speed bombardment of information has produced a generation with short attention spans, no doubt. But, it has also produced a sharp generation who understand how to effectively market themselves and products using social networks.

Why Boomers should listen
Because of the emerging influence of Gen Y, it’s important we understand how they’re different in order to monetize marketing strategies in a Web 2.0 environment. When marketing to them, remember that:

  1. Mobile phones are like an extension of their arm
  2. They don’t care about ads, but what their friends think
  3. Television is background noise; Internet TV is better
  4. Social media networks equal relationship building
  5. They expect work tools to mirror Web tools 
  6. They value work-life balance; flex-time, an ability to work from anywhere in a “fun” work environment; a need to “buy in”  to an idea (aka “Generation Why?”)

An environment where everyone wins
If we can embrace the concept of reverse mentoring, and recognize the positive changes Gen Y brings to business, everyone can benefit. Boomers can learn from Gen Y’s ability to adapt quickly to changing work environments, and at how easily they give and receive feedback. Having grown up during the Enron era, they are skeptical about concepts such as company loyalty, and appear to have an almost built in expectation of company layoffs.

It’s Gen Y’s time to challenge outdated norms and create real change in an environment so everyone can win.

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