Say the word Facebook and you will get a variety of reactions. Typically, a 15-year-old and their Facebook friends, all 879 of them, are using it as a virtual companion who is available 24/7. It serves as a backboard for those who wish to post their own thoughts which ultimately document their own adolescence. For 50-somethings, the use is more diverse and varied. For some, it's about reconnecting with people from long ago and for others, it's a business tool to promote themselves or their product or service. For some dedicated users (of all ages), it's the first thing that they check in the morning. Just like checking the HuffPost home page, NYTimes.com or even email. For others, it's the site which most enterprise employees turn to when bored at work and surfing the Web. It's free and fun.
For the 50-something year old social media neophyte, it can be an easy entry point into the New World. This world of social media is real time and authentic. Something which can feel raw and open to those of my generation. The way we communicate and interact with one another is evolving at laser speed. It is imperative for 50-somethings and older to keep pace and understand how Facebook and other types of social media are vital for the enhancement of your personal as well as your business life. You can no longer ignore it; you will be a Flintstone rather than a Jetson. As Fred frequently asked, "All right Rubble, what is this?" Straight from the Stone Age...
Although this piece is very basic for some readers, there are many who have not at all been embraced the social media phenomenon and are merely dismissing it as limited to teens. Social media affects many behaviors and is creating new trends. For now, I will focus on the simple social aspect.
Essentially, Facebook is your virtual BFF (best friend forever -- ask any 15-year-old.) Free of charge, you can have an unlimited online connection to as many people as you can "friend" or "be friended" by. A unique group which is assembled by you. A group of your own ready listeners to whom you can brag, reveal emotions, talk politics, business, via text, photos or video. What's more you can potentially receive feedback from all of them. It is a ready-made focus group for those of you familiar with the concept. It is as if they are lined up awaiting your every impulse or thought either via wall post, message or IM. My particular Facebook friend group has friends from Detroit who are scattered all over the country with whom I grew up, family from all over, friends from my past 20 years in metro NYC, business associates over the years, my kids and some of their friends and an ex-husband and ex-boyfriends, or two. A mixed bag, the viral beauty of the Facebook friend universe.
As with any new technology, plunging in head first may be painfully slow but the immersion is good for your synapses. Once you have the basics, enlist anyone between the ages of 15 to 20-years-old to fine tune your skills and teach you the shortcuts, applications etc. The first important technical nugget when utilizing Facebook with such a diverse audience is to learn the difference between a wall post and a message. Just like at Starbucks, you need to make an effort to understand and speak the new vernacular. A wall post is public -- everyone can see it. It is shared with all of your friends and the friend who posted the thought, video, photo etc. A Facebook message is something between two people only. Imagine if I posted something personal on the wall of a girlfriend when I meant it for her eyes only! Or vice versa, with broad based messages, make certain to include groups of friends rather than just messaging one friend. Other than that, you may not be as immediately productive as possible but you will not be destructive either.
Facebook is a fun way to connect with people all over the world who you used to know, still know or wish to connect with either for personal or business reasons. It's easy to use, broadens your knowledge base both through the anecdotal stories which are shared, the links to news, information, videos and photos. An eclectic snapshot of the world through the eyes of your friends. One friend who is a chef posts a great new recipe each day. Another guy posts Youtube video clips as though he was an MTV-VJ from the past. A fun way to pass the time, reconnect with friends thereby increasing your oxytocin.
For as we know, the world is spinning very quickly. It reminds me of the immortal words of one of my heroes, George Jetson. He was fond of saying, "Jane. Stop this crazy thing!" Next, I am hoping that the kitchen is revolutionized ala the Jetsons. As only George Jetson could say, "No one could dial up breakfast like your Mother." Or "Yum, it's been lightyears since you (Jane) programmed synthetic brownies."