Baby boomers are digital immigrants
Social media – how can baby boomers use it professionally?
On May 18, the IPO of Facebook came at a valuation of $108B. If you’re a babyboomer like me, you might wonder how this event will impact your future career. Until about six months ago, I represented most baby boomers– I was using one social-media tool for friends and family life and keeping the content private, and one tool to boost my professional appearance by pushing my contact list above the magic 500-contact borderline.
As baby boomers, we are digital immigrants. We have embraced digital devices like mobile phones and tablets. But we still text using one finger and struggle to keep up with the abbreviations our kids use, such as “KWIM?” (“know what I mean?”) We tend to want to separate our social-media interactions into a professional and a private sphere. Few of us have started to explore the use of social media to extend our sphere of professional influence beyond just the people we have met in person at least once. And when we have met them once, we tend to stay in touch by e-mail rather than through the use of social media. Most of us are now comfortable communicating with the 160-character SMS/TXT format, but we struggle with, for example, the 140-character format used on Twitter, where posts always begin with the # symbol.
Finding out your personal impact score in any of the major social-media impact tools is a good way to get an idea of where you stand. It’s normally enough of a motivator to be a call for action. You can start by just reading posts on Twitter to get a feeling for what’s going on. And don’t forget to learn from your screen-agers (teenagers). They know what makes an impact and what does not– and you have an edge when it comes to understanding what it all means from a business perspective.
My predictions for baby boomers are:
- Learning social-media skills for professional purposes will be vital to ensure that we will still be attractive on the labor market in five years’ time.
- Having a decent social-media impact score is already a must for people who are being hired for marketing positions, but the trend is likely to expand to to all customer facing roles and management positions within 3-5 years..
- We will have to let go of our ambition of perfection. We will inevitably make mistakes on the path to establishing our digital personalities, and these mistakes are part of our individual journeys.