Boomers and the PC

Two Interesting Views on Social Media

Dave Kinnear 1-On Leadership

My wife constantly reminds me that I am an “elitist” when it comes to technology. I have been in and around electronic technology since I was 19 years old. That is almost five decades ago. She says that when it comes to technology, I assume everyone gets it and uses it and appreciates it and more importantly wants it! So I’m treading on thin ice as I sit down to write this post about a couple of different “takes” on people’s views of “social media technology” and what it means. (She’s probably right and she is my editor so will see this post. Heat-shields up.)

The first “view” comes from a group of folks I know to be 55 and up — so “Boomers,” or “Traditionalists.” The communication I received was that this group was getting themselves into the 21st century because they were going to organize and launch a website. Huummm. (If we ask a Millennial if having a website is tantamount to finally “being in the 21st century,” I wonder what kind of look we would get.) But then, the group’s clients/readers are fellow senior citizens and so they will very likely do just fine.

Obviously there is more to being part of the technology age than simply having a website attributable to you or your group. Yet for these folks, this is a huge step forward, one for which they can be proud. I am curious about what the website will end up being — static, interactive, informative, dynamic? It remains to be seen and I’m pulling for the idea that the website will also be instructional for those curious to learn about such things. I will refrain from letting them know just how much of a baby step this is toward the 21st century, because it is, as I said, a huge step forward for them.

The second “view” comes from folks I would hope know better. This view is that there must be an “immediate Return On Investment” for social media marketing and presence. I think this view comes from first, the old mentality of advertising and second, being in love with the fact that we can finally have an abundance of measurements to determine exactly what is happening. That’s a great thing about the new on-line world; just about everything is measurable.

No CallsSo what’s wrong with wanting to generate a positive ROI? Nothing. It’s the immediacy part that disturbs me. In today’s world, as far as I can tell, selling is more or less “dead.” The old methods of advertising are dying if not already dead. The concept of generating leads for the purpose of following up and selling to those leads is not only “dead,” but if we engage in selling we destroy all the good will we create with value added content on our social media sites. Instead, the purpose of great content on our websites, social media pages and on our blogs is to engage potential customers and to be found by those looking for our products and/or services. The great content means higher search engine ranking which means we will be found.

That’s our marketing job today. We must be found when potential customers are looking. We must generate a following of folks who, by word of mouth (or tweets, posts, updates, etc.), extend our family. We must NOT sell and we must make it very EASY TO BE FOUND. And we MUST BE MOBILE. If our content is not designed to be read on a smart phone and/or tablet, we will not be found.

This second group suggested that all the hard work of building a following on social media through blog content and other social media content was geared towards generating leads which would then be followed-up to sell. That is so 20th century! They had it right up until that last point. The long term gain will not be from how many leads are generated and given to your sales department. Instead, the gains are from the folks who either complete the purchase on their own or who contact your team to ask clarifying questions.

The largest cohort today is the Millennial generation. They are even bigger than the Baby Boomers. They are the customers. Ask them if they like phone calls or like being sold. I know what the answer is, but that’s not important. What’s important is, do YOU know what the answer is? Are your advisors from the Millennial generation? Are your advisors folks who have studied the Millennial generation? Are you using your newly found love of social media and technology to market to the right audience? What do they want?