From August 2-4 I attended the BlogHer conference in New York City. The largest gathering of women bloggers in the world, BlogHer is filled with informative and educational breakout sessions, big, splashy parties, high-profile keynote speakers (like Katie Couric and Martha Stewart) and opportunities to connect with sponsors interested in working with bloggers for ad campaigns and brand ambassador programs.
Well, unless you're a midlife blogger like me. Then the sponsors were less than enthused. I diligently walked the Expo floor, handing out my card and giving my elevator pitch to dozens of sponsors -- and the only ones that seemed remotely interested in me were those focusing on, you guessed it, menopause.
At first I laid all of the blame on the companies represented at BlogHer -- and there were some huge companies participating. But then I started thinking more about social media and those of us over 50. And what I've realized is this: There is a huge swath of this demographic that doesn't take social media seriously at all. Just a year ago, I had no experience with Twitter, blogging or Pinterest, but I have learned so much in the past year. I have fully embraced social media as a powerful force in my life, and it's opened so many doors and introduced me to so many fascinating people I would never have had the chance to know IRL (in real life).
I have had many of my contemporaries look questioningly at me when I mention my activity on Twitter or when I talk about the impact Facebook has on the traffic on my blog. There are a couple of responses that I get quite frequently:
"I hardly ever go on Facebook -- there's nothing there that interests me." (Check out Facebook groups)
"What can someone say in 140 characters on Twitter?" (A lot, believe me!)
"I don't want a Facebook page -- I don't want people finding me there." (You are able to set your Facebook page to allow access to only your friends)
"Twitter is only for business." (Twitter is amazingly social, and you can find people discussing thousands of topics)
and my favorite:
"Social media is a waste of time." (No, it isn't!)
I have news for you who feel like this. Social media is here to say. As Guy Kawasaki, one of the biggest influencers in social media has said (and I paraphrase), social media isn't NEW media, it's media, period. If you are reading this article, you have accepted social media as a legitimate conveyor of information.
My call to action for those who are 50+ is this: Try some of the social media platforms. Check out Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Read some blogs -- they're easy to find, just google "blog" plus whatever interests you -- I guarantee you'll find a blogger writing about nearly any topic under the sun. If you are confused by any of these social media platforms, google this: "how to use Pinterest/Facebook/Twitter." If you're still confused, ask a teenager. Social media and the internet are as natural to them as walking and talking.
Those of us at midlife need to embrace the future of communication and accessing information. We are the missing link in the online world, but we are making progress. To dismiss social media as a passing phase is just wrong. Give social media a try.
Follow Sharon Greenthal on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sharongreenthal