Baby boomers are those born between 1946 and 1964 and account for 74.9 million of the population. Boomers are starting to retire, but a large part of them remain in the workforce as an untapped resource for potential social advocacy.
While often referred to as digital dinosaurs or internet laggards, this is a misnomer – according to <Google, baby boomers now spend more time online than they do watching TV. This includes an average of 1 hour and 48 minutes per day just on social networking sites.
So why an untapped potential?
Because most boomers have yet to make the jump from personal social media use to professional. The perception of social media being synonymous with lack of productivity is one that is sticking with them, but it doesn’t have to.
This blog focuses on the why and how to get baby boomers on social media and engaging in employee advocacy.
Why Invest Getting Boomers On Social?
Once you get their buy-in (see the three steps below), they are actually 19% more likely to share than their younger counterparts. Benefits of boomers are the fact they tend to have more established networks, stronger relationship building skills and expertise in their chosen field. Leveraging baby boomers are essential because they’re adept at relationship building and love to share meaningful content – two essential characteristics needed for a strong social advocate.
Baby Boomer Statistics
If you’re still not sure an internal campaign to recruit and train your organization’s baby boomers is worthwhile then hopefully this will change your mind:
- 96% of baby boomersuse search engines and 92% shop online
- 60% of people between 50 – 64 have at least one social media profile
- 9% of Facebook users over 55 years old. However, Boomers are much less likely to use Twitter.
- Boomers are influenced by what they see on social media. More than half will visit a company website or continue looking on a search engine for more information after seeing something on social media
If you’re looking for some stats to share with this generation on why they should be more active on social then hit them with this: Pew Research found that social media use can “enhance worker productivity by fostering connections with colleagues and resources around the globe.” After surveying 2,003 American adults on how they use social media, they found:
- 24% make or support professional connections
- 20% get information that helps them solve problems at work
- 17% build or strengthen personal relationships with coworkers
It’s important to showcase to this generationthat social media and their participation will have many benefits for both the organization and themselves.
Three Key Steps to Getting them Online
Social Media Training
Offer social media training to ensure these boomers see the value of their participation on social as well as the tactical skills of each different network. You want to make sure you offer social media training in a way that will help these employees absorb the information as easily as possible. Think in-person (if possible) and materials with digestible, bite-sized pieces of information.
When it comes to training, boomers will have different social media struggles than their younger counterparts. They don’t need to be schooled on what is oversharing; instead, they actually need to be encouraged to share and be themselves when posting on social. In addition, some of these networks may be new and the nuances of each could feel overwhelming – breaking it down into an easy cheat-sheet will be a huge help for them.
Guide, Don’t Force
No one likes to be forced into things. It is important to encourage not push older employees into social advocacy. While top-down mandates driven by the c-suite tend to be the way large scale programs are implemented, it is important to convey that employees have a lot of autonomy. Posting work content on personal social media profiles can be intimidating for some employees so organizations need to instill confidence.
Establishing policies, guidelines and best practices for social media advocacy is an important way to enhance trust among employees. They will know this program is supported by the organization and feel more comfortable getting online and starting to share business-related content. Social media guidelinescommonly outline approaches to content creation, content sourcing, and content sharing.
As mentioned before, while a lot of boomers are getting online it doesn’t mean they are perficient at it. Leverage technology, like employee advocacy software, to simplify the sharing process for them. When comparing software, look for technologies that are mobile-optimized, user-friendly, integrate with enterprise tools, support multiple document types, and have intelligently designed workflows for content suggestions and approvals. Boomers need to be able to share company and third-party content to their social network easily and with confidence.
One unique training example is Dell – they trained 10,000 employees to use social media to augment their jobs by implementing reverse mentoring. Where younger lower-ranking employees were asked to train senior executives on the benefits and use of social media and other internal communications. This not only gets boomers online, but it also fosters more community within an organization.
BCD Travel also found themselves in a predicament where they needed to get more of their boomers online. Brandy Wilson, Manager, Global Communications and Marketing “found that people who are not used to social media are a bit hesitant to get out there, but we knew how important it was for our people to get out there because of their reach, impact, and expertise.” As an older organization, BCD Travel had boomer employees with much larger networks yet they were untapped due to a lack of social media knowledge. They overcame this challenge by hosting various training workshops and introducing social advocacy as an easy way to benefit both the brand and the employee.
If your brand aims to tap into the baby boomer generation then education is key. Both in terms of why they should be posting online as well as how to best leverage each platform. One of the most common use cases for the older generation is building relationships and showcasing their thought leadership which has personal, professional and organizational benefits. When looking for social media advocates don’t leave out boomers – they are online and getting social more than ever before. It would be a mistake to not leverage this untapped potential.