Who’s right, Betty White or the newest AARP Social Media Survey for the baby boomer crowd? On her recent SNL appearance, White satirically exclaimed that social media tools, like Facebook (the site that helped put her on SNL) are a “huge waste of time.” But, according to a recent AARP study, one in four Americans 50 years and older stay connected using social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Additionally, nearly half of older adults, aged 50 to 64, say they are ”Internet savvy.” In fact, AARP’s study prompted the organization to redesign its own website to increase its focus on social networking and refine its look and feel.
These findings supersede notions that the baby boomers lack the adeptness and know-how to navigate the social media environment. Looks like it’s not just for kids anymore.
While the boomers are increasingly embracing these technologies in their personal lives, the trend hasn’t been as quick to catch on in the workplace. Many companies are still reluctant—sometimes completely opposed—to using social media, because of misconceptions that these tools waste employee time, can cause brand damage and a loss of brand control and greaten the risk of lawsuits or disclosure of “corporate secrets.”
While the social media pool is complex, it is clearly here to stay and continues to generate momentum across generations. These websites and tools are fruitful opportunities for organizations to consume, create, share and influence information on their own terms. And you don’t have to be a cannonball to make waves—instead, consider baby steps:
Begin by listening at a safe distance, find your audience, develop a clear strategy and then establish your social media footprint. Done right, organizations can deeply influence effective team building, communication and collaboration.
As the prevalence of social media continues to rise, organizations of all types and sizes are recognizing the ways in which social media can help them better understand, respond to and attract the attention of their target audience. So while Ms. White might call on her Ouija board to make connections, the rest of us should consider ways to start or ramp up our own campaigns and leverage the power of social media.