Feb 4, 2008

Social Media Is Not Like Skateboarding

CK has a great post
about how so many of her marketing client type friends think they're "too old" for social media, even though chronologically they're still in their 30s.

And I find the same thing happen with my friends too, even the ones in the creative departments of ad agencies. When I tell them I have a blog or that I'm on Facebook, I often get razzed about whether I listen to Hannah Montana or hang out at skateboard parks. Implication being that I'm way too old to be involved in things like social media that are best left to "the kids." (NB: You'd also be surprised at how many of them still assume a "blog" is some sort of online diary, where I write down my deepest, most intimate thoughts for the world to read.)

Now these are normally intelligent, sophisticated people who, if I had to guess, feel very in control of the worlds they've created for themselves and don't want to put themselves in a situation where they're no longer in control and where they're afraid they're going to wind up seeming like the chaperones.

The truth, as anyone reading this probably knows, is pretty far from that. Blogs aren't all that different than magazines, Facebook and LinkedIn are pretty intuitive once you start playing around with them and posting on a message board isn't brain surgery. What's more, unless you're actually on a Hannah Montana or High School Musical site, the majority of your fellow social media contacts are going to be established professionals around your age who share everything from your musical tastes to your professional interests.

If you work in advertising or marketing, you should definitely be checking out as many new media vehicles as you have time for, as many Twitters and Pownces and Second Lives as your schedule allows. You don't have to be an active user but you do need to check it out enouh so that you can speak intelligently to it when it comes up with your clients. Don't forget too that someday all those kids are going to be your target audience and you're going to want to know how they think and how they operate.

You'll probably even wind up discovering why social media is so popular and why so many people spend so much time on it: It's kinda fun, once you get the hang of it.


Anonymous said...

The attitude is far more prevalent among brands too. So many out there think the world is flat behind their agency website. They have their email, maybe instant message and they’re all set.

Stanley Johnson said...

The blog = online diary is a very common misconception. How can we help change this?

Jonathan Trenn said...

While it IS very hard to keep up with all that's new and people are extraordinarily busy to begin with, I do see a sense of arrogance here.

A lot of people seem to say it's fear. But when people start making condescending comments - yes, I know they're basically made in jest - it shows to me arrogance.

I've seen it political marketing too. Keep new ideas out, knock them, and stand on your own laurels as an insider who knows better. It's followed by elitism toward those with new ideas and also toward the electorate (or the consumer).

Anonymous said...

i take umbrage... im 35 and i still skateboard.

Anonymous said...

Funny, all the 'old people' I know are all over facebook. although they are all agency, new media, interactive types.

I do think it is interesting though that people over 30 use things like facebook, much differentially then those under 25. It shows how facebook can evolve with you as you grow older, and no longer use facebook as a purely social tool to post drunken pictures and join groups with names like "Students against fat people sitting on the bus next to me".

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

“It shows how facebook can evolve with you as you grow older, ”

Maybe too it’s also an example of how people can adapt a technology to their own needs, even as those needs evolve.

Anonymous said...

I thought I was really 'old' (I only use mobile phone when i have to). But pretty amazed to discover how there are lots of people in advertising / media etc .. who hardly know what a blog is / social media in general. Not surprising that so many large companies who aren't even near to approaching the world of blogging and social media in general.

Anonymous said...

"But pretty amazed to discover how there are lots of people in advertising / media etc .. who hardly know what a blog is / social media in general."

Yup. This is exactly what I was focusing on in my piece--I'm not talking about, say, lawyers or doctors who don't have the time for social media...I was/am talking marketing folks--and many that are actually in interactive. It's like now that they learned web 1.0, they've learned enough. That's what amazes/baffles me--if consumers are using these tools(and, to be clear, consumers of ALL ages as eons.com is nearly as popular as myspace or facebook), then how can marketers not have the time to use them?

I actually find the most fun of my work are the big challenges of learning new sectors, new trends and new tools.