We’re all different, but when we are young, and when we get old, it’s like age is all that matters.
I have been speaking to about forty senior citizens about social media. The topic was the benefits of social media for senior citizens, and the experience has made a powerful impact on me.
A tough crowd
I didn’t just talk. I started out asking questions, and I listened to what they had to say. Some of them had used social media for a long time, and some told me that they talk to their grand children in Australia via Skype. Asking questions, and focusing on listening, that’s how I get personal and build relationship.
It was a tough crowd. The youngest was probably 75 years old, and he was professor or something with a brand new iPhone and a regular user of social media. The oldest was 91 years old, and she had never tried a computer, and never been online. I was trying to talk to both at the same time, and that’s the really hard part.
Seniors are so eager to learn. That’s my experience. They just need a little motivation. Many won’t take action unless they either have some kind of social proof, or if they get explained “exactly” what to do. So I showed them my iPad. Each person was able to look at it, feel it in their own hands and try it (read news and watch images). What do you think happened? I was surprised to see the reactions. As I’m writing this, the 91 year old woman is at the store buying an iPad. It will be her first computer.
I talked to them on their own terms, and explained the benefits of social media using examples from their lives. I didn’t mention the latest trends online or any technical details. I based my examples on their feedback about their online and offline activities, and I used examples from the people who were present.
An elephant entered the room
I received a lot of feedback, and the dialog was exciting. All the various people had so many different things to share, and age was never something we talked about, it wasn’t relevant. They use social media like the rest of us.
But, suddenly it was like an elephant entered the room.
One man raised his hand. When I nodded, he stood up. Everybody stopped talking. They looked at him like he was the sheriff in this small town. He started speaking with a soft and gentle voice, a lot different than any sheriff I’ve ever watched in any John Wayne movie. He told us that he wanted to learn how to use Facebook, but he couldn’t find a single course for seniors. Another man said the same, then a woman. In the end all forty ended up saying that they would love to learn more about how to use Facebook. We want a course. Why can’t we find any courses? I heard the words everywhere. They all wanted more.
I was thinking. But I didn’t promise anything. I did some research. They were right. There are no courses on how to use social media for seniors in this town.
I targeted my presentation to use examples from their lives, and during the presentation I didn’t think that age was ever going to be an issue. But it ended up being huge.
If I had told them that I would create a course on how to use Facebook for seniors, I’d get close to 100% sign ups that very minute. They want the course targeted for their age, not who they are.
Age is fascinating.