Stop me when any of this founds familiar.
1. I’m talking to a business owner about Internet marketing. Things are going pretty well until the topic of social media enters the conversation. As soon as things like Twitter and Facebook and blogging come up, the business owner looks at me, chuckles, and lets me know that social media is “a kid’s thing”. He’s too old to get involved with that. He does serious business.
2. Rhea speaks on a local panel on the topic of Internet marketing not too long ago. She’s paired with a speaker a generation or two older than her. Each time Rhea mentions using social media as a marketing strategy, the speaker scoffs at her, publicly mocks her age, and dismisses her recommendation as a sign of her youth. Rhea puts the speaker in her place and continues the conversation.
3. I go home to visit my father. He asks me for the gazillionth time what it is I do for a living. I explain search engine optimization and marketing in very, very simple terms. He responds, “Oh yeah, the Internet, I’m too old to learn how to do that now. We didn’t have that back then. We actually spoke to people”.
Each one of these situations makes me want to jab a pen straight into my neck.
It’s time to debunk the myth. You are not too old to use social media. Pretending that you are is the equivalent of blaming the recession for why you’ve been unemployed for two years. It’s an excuse and it’s a bad one at that.
Just because you’re not familiar with a new technology, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a benefit or that you shouldn’t pick it up. Learning and growing and mastering new skills is what we do as humans. It’s what we’ve always done.
- You weren’t born knowing how to use language and form sentences, but you learned.
- You didn’t know how to drive a car, but you learned.
- You didn’t know how to type and/or use a computer, but you learned.
You learned by doing it and practicing it. You learned because it moved you forward. I’d hate to see where we’d be today if the cavemen wrote off fire as “shiny and useless”.
If you want to learn social media, you need to stop talking and start doing. Using your age as an excuse just sets you further and further behind the curve.
I’m about 5 weeks away from my 29th birthday. That means I grew up with computers. Not to the degree that my younger brother has, but I used them in the classroom, and in high school the Web completely took away my need to ever consult a hard copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica again. And I have to think that around the time that I was taking my first typing class in 9th grade, computers were being wheeled into the workplace and workers were staring at each other wondering what they HELL they were going to do now.
- The computers were unfamiliar.
- They threatened to change how things had always been done.
- It was a brand new technology and a new way of thinking that would have to be learned.
- It was downright terrifying.
And even though they were nervous and panicked and they probably whined a whole bunch – the smart people hopped on. They learned it as quickly as they could because it gave them an edge and made them better. The people who refused to accept computers into their workplace then are now out of a job. And the same thing is happening right now with social media.
You shut up and learn or you start looking for a different job.
If you own a business, the way you market that business has changed. There are new tools to help you do what you’ve always done, but better. And while you may be too lazy, too unmotivated, too intimidated or too full of yourself to learn them, you are certainly not too old.
Because social media isn’t about age, just like it’s not about being an expert, a guru or a visionary. It’s about people and marketing to them, and using new tools to go above and beyond for them. If you’re “too old” to do that, then you’re too old to be in business. If that’s the case, maybe this will help.
But by ignoring social media and chalking it up to kids play, you lose.
You lose on a way to do what you do better, to give your brand a voice, and to stay competitive.
It’s okay if social media intimidates you a little bit or that you’re not immediately awesome at it. I’d venture to guess you fell off your bike a few times as a kid and backed into a couple of mailboxes when you were learning to drive. But you got back on. You kept trying. You didn’t lay the blame on the car.
This is no different.
Get over your issues, your hang ups, and your insecurities about trying something new or possibly being bad at it and just do it. The longer you avoid social media, the bigger the hill you’ll have to climb later or the more money you’ll have to spend getting someone to push you up. Social media isn’t a kid’s thing, it’s a business thing. Create that Twitter account. Create a Brand Page on Facebook. Do something. Quit whining about it and fearing it and putting it down, and do it.
You have a choice. Because in three years your business can either thank you or it can cease to exist. Your call.
Have a good weekend.