If you're reading this post, you probably know that Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites can help you promote your business. You may use them outside of work to keep in touch with friends and relatives. But you may also have to deal with people who aren't convinced that they need to be quite so connected.
It's a common problem for anyone who works in marketing and deals with business owners or upper management of a certain age. To be fair, though, it has more to do with attitude than age. I can point to people both older and younger than me who use social media more than I do; I even know some folks who aren't online at all, let alone on Facebook. Still, this problem seems to be more common among those who didn't grow up with computers and the Internet.
And make no mistake, it IS a problem if you're trying to promote your business. What do you say to a client who claims he's “too old” to learn how to use social media? How do you approach someone who acts like social media is some kind of fad or kid's toy that they don't need to deal with?
Lisa Barone offers a very spirited refutation of this attitude. “Just because you’re not familiar with a new technology,” she write, “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.”
So remind the senior vice president that there was once a time when business was conducted via the postal service, before telephones and Federal Express. Would they really like to go back to the days before faxes, and wait forever for deals to go through? Or perhaps they wish that typewriters, let alone computers, never existed. Yet both of these modern conveniences have proved immeasurably helpful. Are you trying to help a law firm with their online promotion? Ask the senior partner if they'd like to go back to writing out 48 page briefs personally, in long hand, at one sitting – as Abraham Lincoln once did. (Trust me, there's a man who'd use the Internet if he was given the chance!).
If the people you're working with claim that it's just a trend that will go away, point out that social media has been around for at least a decade now; it's not going away. If they're saying that they don't have the time to learn, you just might have to find a nice way to tell them “You'll have all the time in the world when your business fails,” as Bradley Gauthier notes in a comment to Barone's post.
It's worth keeping in mind that behind a lot of this stubbornness you'll often find simple fear. There's a real fear of breaking something, which you may need to get past. But if you can show them how using social media ties into other skills they already have, you may win some real converts. After all, the word “network” has been around for a long time – long before computers or even telephones, in fact. If all else fails, remind them that George Takei uses Twitter, and he's grown even more popular – and well-known – today than he ever was in his days on the original Star Trek series. Good luck!
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