Active baby boomers are being defined by social media

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We can’t stress it strongly enough: if we want to live up to our self-image as active baby boomers, we have to jump on the social media bandwagon.

Social Media And The Baby Boomer: What’s The Difference Between Following And Stalking? asks Judith Natelli McLaughlin in Huff Post 50.

Social media is growing, and I, ever so slowly, am growing with it. I reluctantly joined Facebook in 2011. “I have no interest in social media,” I told my friends. Why did I cave? Marketing. The writers I met with, and facilitators from seminars I attended, said my book, Poems on Fruits & Odes to Veggies, needed a Facebook presence. Turns out Poems & Odes couldn’t have a page unless I had one too. We both got pages, and I soon discovered Facebook was fun; much of it anyway. I reconnected with a few old friends from high school. Most of my cousins were on it too. So while the family doesn’t get to see each other as often as we would like, we get to stay connected and hear about proms, graduations, birthdays, and the birth of assorted reptiles. There’s a bunch of stuff I don’t like too, but isn’t that life? I focus on what makes me happy and the other stuff (like 100 pics of someone’s vacation or pro-gun cartoons) I ignore.

Judith Natelli McLaughlin

Judith Natelli McLaughlin

In 2012 I published my first novel, This Moment on Amazon for Kindle reading. I needed more marketing, so I created a This Moment Facebook page. I went from zero presence to three pages in three years. Man, my social presence was growing fast. Ha! As time progressed I was connecting with authors, publishers and assorted other people in the book industry. I was getting my name out there, building a platform and having some fun.

Then one day a colleague of mine said, “You really need to be tweeting.” Really? Tweeting? I didn’t know what to tweet or why anyone would be interested. But marketing was a good enough reason to join so I created @judynmclaughlin. I started following others in the book industry and seeing what they tweeted about. It wasn’t complicated. Tweets ranged from everything to nothing. I jumped in with my 140 characters.

I try to manage that fine line between annoying self-promoter and glib writer. In my Twitter travels I found two women who tweet beautifully; authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. Together they penned among other books, The Nanny Diaries, Dedication and their soon-to-be-released The First Affair. Their handle? @NannyDiaries. I asked @NannyDiaries how they do it. They said, “Honestly, the self-promoting is uncomfortable. It definitely does not come naturally. We try to recommend reads to followers who have read one of our books and might like another. We are so touched to have connected with fans and other writers and try to keep it to what might interest them. It is a challenge to sell yourself, especially true for women. And for writers to do so in under 140 characters in nearly impossible.” What a relief to know self-promotion is hard for them too!

The interconnected social media "conversation."

The interconnected social media “conversation.”

With a smile on my face I continued our conversation and asked them what they get out of 140 character interactions. “The absolutely best thing about tweeting has been the opportunity it provides to connect directly with our readers and do so in real time.” My friends (and now followers) @NannyDiaries told a story about connecting with a reader who wanted to know what they, the authors, imagined happened to one of their characters at the end of the novel. “It was an awesome conversation,” they said. “It makes our day and keeps us writing. It’s like right, someone’s out there.”

That alone sounds like reason enough to tweet, but I still had reservations. Sure I have connected with big-time writers, agents, book reviewers and publishers. In fact, Simon & Schuster under the handle @SimonBooks and I have real Twitter conversations and answer each other’s Twitter questions. I like the idea of staying fresh in the minds of those I follow, and learning more about their business, yet I don’t want any of these people to think I’m a creepy stalker. And there in lies the question… what is the difference between following and stalking? I often check with one of my teenagers to see if it’s okay to reply to a tweet, favorite it, or begin following. “Yes,” the McLaughlin girls say.

In my day you didn’t let the boy you were crushing know you were following him. Baby Boomers were subtle and stalking was not counted with “likes” or “follows.” I need my Generation Y children, those born in the age of social media, to talk me off the ledge. My children promise me, “People want you to follow them.” (Then I remember how @howiemandel practically begged for followers when he guest hosted on Kelly and Michael). Getting lots of followers seems to be the goal.

Twitter is about responding, connecting, interacting and, ummmm — stalking. (To be very clear, I use the term loosely with no malintent surrounding the following, just an innocent gathering of information). Honestly, stalking or following; it still puzzled me. So I reached out for more answers.

Continue reading … click here.

4 Comments

  1. Let’s say I don’t have a large circle of friends nor a very large family. Most relatives are gone and the remaining two are not very friendly.

    I still enjoy IM chats, e-mail and phone calls. Oh yes, I also enjoy a hobby called amateur radio. Maybe you’ve heard of it. I converse with people all over the world. It’s much more technical than Facebook, Twitter, etc could hope to be.

    Believe it or not, the hobby has seen a resurgence of interest of late with more licensed hams than ever before. Maybe it’s because Face book and Twitter present themselves in a very juvenile way.

  2. This was a great read. I spend so much time on the social networks now, more than my teens. I especially like Twitter and Google +. My family and co-workers are on Facebook so I do check that regularly. I keep hearing that Baby Boomers are afraid of the internet but I think, truth be told, that we are gaining confidence and ground on the other generations. We’re even using smart phones in growing numbers so that we can stay in touch on the go. Thanks for this post.

  3. Anyone asked what your Klout score is lately? Or do you have a Media Kit? Never thought I would have either one but after having to develop profiles on Pinterest, Newsle, Quora, FB, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and writing for several publications I’m socially maxed out. I think my family knows more about me now than they did when we were in the same city. Not a bad thing, but Social Media can be exhausting. And I think we Boomer do a bang up job in using it properly.

  4. Florence,

    There is real value in social media but I am so conflicted about some of it. Newsle.com, for instance. What’s the point beyond narcissistic self-promotion? We encourage everyone to promote their stories that appear on BoomerCafe.com in social media, and I think it works to enhance your awareness and ours. Twitter, Google+, Reddit, Facebook, Pinterest and others are good. That is using social media for a purpose. But idling posting on Twitter as many people do? I don’t know. Google+ is growing on me but Digg and StumbleUpon? Beats me.

    David

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