Monday, February 20, 2012

Baby Boomers and Social Media


The statistics are constantly changing about which demographics are growing on which social networks, so I won’t even bother looking it up now to publish for this article – because it will change tomorrow! What doesn’t change, and what is harder to measure, is the possibility of personality having more to do with social network adoption than age.

It was enlightening for me to be in a session with non-twitter users when they were asked what they thought of the twitter wall in the room. (For those of you who have not seen it, a screen in a session will be dedicated to the conversation happening on twitter about the conference while it is happening.) One attendee commented that the twitter users seemed very narcissistic. This was the perfect a-ha moment for me because what she was feeling went beyond the typical complaint of "I don't want to know what you had for breakfast". The twitter community at this event had been using the event's hashtag for socializing. They were complimenting each other, teasing each other and sharing pictures of each other. However, to someone outside of that circle, it would seem narcissistic.

One session I attended talked about generation Y using social media for personal gain and generation X using it for professional gain. As a general rule, I think this is true. Baby boomers signed up for Facebook initially to keep tabs on their kids and so their original motivation was personal use. Many of them struggle with the idea of using Facebook for professional networking. I would say that if you are “friends” with people in your industry and truly have relationships with them, why would they be any different from friends outside of work? It will be interesting to test out Google+ Circles to see if this solves this dilemma for them. Most baby boomers are not interested in Twitter because they have not seen a strong enough reason for them to explore it. Until you feel like you are missing out on something, you are going to keep your distance.

These are the stereotypes that are easy to make. However, if you do some research about your stakeholders and which social networks they are using, you might be surprised.