Forget the stereotype of the tech-phobic elder calling their adult children from their flip phone for help with their AOL account. Now 82% of Baby Boomers have at least one social media account, with Facebook being the most popular with the over-50 set. Boomers spend an average of 27 hours a week online, which is actually two more hours than their Millenial children do.
As the aging population puts off retirement, they’re looking online for career help, for job listings, and to build their personal brand. They know that social media isn’t just for narcissistic twenty-somethings to post selfies, it’s a place where they can showcase their work, discover the latest info about their field, and network (31% of LinkedIn users are over 55).
If you’re ready to put yourself out there on social media, but don’t know where to start, we’ve put together a five-part guide for finding the platform that’s right for you, building your online presence, and getting the most out of your time there. If you’re already on social media but are concerned you’re not “doing it right”, we have some tips for you, too.
This week we’ll start with the basics. Take our quiz to see which platform is right for you.
SOCIAL MEDIA COMPATIBILITY QUIZ
1. If you asked me about my social life, I would say:
A) The more the merrier! I like to keep in touch with friends, neighbors, former colleagues and classmates.
B) I socialize only with my closest family and one or two friends.
C) Who has time to socialize? I am too busy working and networking with potential business contacts to go out for fun.
D) I’m shy, but I like knowing what’s going on in the world around me, as long as I don’t have to engage too much.
2. I would describe my familiarity with news and current events as:
A) I’m a news junkie! I want to know what’s happening when it happens, without filters.
B) I’m up on the important headlines. have a few trusted news sources and check on them a couple of times a day.
C) There are only a few issues that resonate with me and that I follow closely in the news.
D) To be honest, I’m more up on events in my neighborhood than global current events.
3. When I think about my favorite brands and products:
A) I am an evangelist! I like to stay up on the latest product developments and am happy to write reviews or recommend them to anyone who will listen!
B) There are one or two brands I use regularly, and if they have a new product or promotion I want to know about it.
C) Who cares about brands? I buy whatever is on sale at the store. I’m not “brand-loyal”.
D) I like to know what’s going on with brands I like, but I’m not likely to talk about them or recommend them.
4. When it comes to documenting my life:
A) No detail is too small! I can tell you what I had for breakfast last Tuesday, or the shoes I wore to my cousin’s wedding.
B) I like to have a record of the most important moments, to share with my closest friends.
C) I don’t have the time or the inclination to write down everything that happens to me, but I do want to share my knowledge and expertise.
D) I’d like a place to privately document the things that are important to me.
5. If I were back in high school English class and had to write about anything it would be:
A) Where to begin? I might write about the sunrise I saw while walking my dog, or the song I just can’t get out of my head, or that infuriating headline I read this morning. Do I have to choose?
B) Probably something really meaningful to me, like the anniversary of meeting my best friend.
C) I’ve always followed the news, so I would probably comment on the pieces that I thought were well written or that had a flawed premise.
D) Something safe and generic, like the change in seasons or something. I don’t think I’d want to share anything too private.
6. When I think of digital photo and video sharing:
A) I wonder how we ever lived without digital cameras and smartphones for capturing life as it happens!
B) It’s nice to have a way to document important events, but it can be kind of a hassle uploading photos and videos, so I don’t do it often.
C) Sharing personal photos and videos isn’t important to me, but having access to instructional videos and business training is.
D) I worry about privacy, so I don’t share photos or videos online at all.
7. I would describe my business network as:
A) A mix of friends and former colleagues. We get together for coffee now and again to stay in touch.
B) Not as robust as it could be. I don’t know where to start with the whole “networking” thing, though I do have a few people I can ask for advice.
C) Constantly growing and changing. My personal network is crucial to my career success.
D) Networking is like pulling teeth. I don’t really need to do it, anyway.
8. Giving advice and sharing recommendations:
A) Comes naturally to me. I love sharing my thoughts and answering questions about the things that are important to me.
B) Is an important part of my relationship with my family and close friends. We do it all the time.
C) Is crucial to my professional reputation. Establishing myself as a subject matter expert is key to my personal brand.
D) Isn’t something I feel comfortable doing, although I appreciate getting information from people I know and trust.
9. Visual pinboards or scrapbooks for gathering ideas and inspiration:
A) Are the greatest thing since sliced bread! I want fashion from my favorite magazines, recipes from my favorite yogurt brand, inspiration for holiday crafts…
B) Appeal to me and my friends very much. They allow us to collect and share everything from recipes to decorating ideas to fitness tips.
C) Aren’t really how my brain is wired. I prefer spending my time reading articles and blogs than looking at visual galleries.
D) Would be a nice way to gather my thoughts around projects and ideas, if I can keep them private.
10. My comfort level with technology and life online is:
A) High. I have multiple devices I use throughout the day, including a smart phone, a tablet, a laptop and/or a desktop computer.
B) Above Average. I have several apps/programs that I use and while I’m no Luddite, I don’t want to feel tethered to technology all day.
C) Average. I have one device I use to connect and a select few programs/apps that I use, and that is enough for me.
D) Low. I am concerned with privacy and don’t really feel confident that what I’m doing on my devices is completely safe.
If you answered:
Mostly As: You are ready to jump feet first into social media, if you haven’t already! Facebook will help you keep in touch with your closest friends and will also allow you to track activity from your favorite celebrities and brands. Twitter will keep you up on the very latest news, unfiltered, as it’s happening. You’re likely comfortable enough to share photos and videos on an online service like Instagram, or at least to use it to follow the latest images from your favorite brands and celebrities. You have a lot of great ideas to share with the world, so go ahead and create some pinboards on Pinterest, or document your latest project on a blogging platform like Tumblr or WordPress—you can synch them so your Facebook and Twitter followers will be alerted whenever you post something new.
Mostly Bs: You’re like most typical Facebook users, and limit your Friends there to family and people you know quite well. If you’re a visual thinker, you may want to consider branching out to the Pinterest and Instagram platforms for sharing photos of things that inspire you. A turnkey blogging solution like Medium makes it easy to connect with people who are already in your network, and share long form essays and journals.
Mostly Cs: You probably think you’re too busy for social media, but in today’s connected world it should be part of your daily routine. LinkedIn allows you to follow influencers and filter news items that will help you stay in touch with the latest industry news. You can position yourself as a thought leader by answering questions on Quora or blogging on your industry’s trends and news—consider a premium solution like Squarespace or WordPress so you can customize the look and feel and use a domain name that reflects your personal brand.
Mostly Ds: You’re concerned about privacy, and if you’ve been following the news lately, who can blame you? But learning how to use privacy settings on Facebook, Instagram, and other services can open up new ways for you to engage with other people and gain information about the things that are important to you. You may not be ready to post about your private life, but Twitter and blogging platforms offer easy ways to consume as well as create content. You may be wary of sharing photos and videos online, but services like Flickr and Shutterfly are closed platforms that allow you to share your content only with those you trust.
Next week we’ll delve into social sharing platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and talk about how they can be more than just places to connect with family– they can be part of your career-building toolkit, too.
Photo credit: Jeffrey Kontur on Flickr