Bridging the Generation Gap

February 13, 2012
Event location: 

 Sony Wonder Technology Lab

By Deanna Utroske

Every generation uses social media, and every generation uses social media differently. According to Lisa Martin, the CEO of LeapFrog Solutions, "It took 38 years for radio to reach an audience of 50 million people and it took television 13 years to reach the same size audience. But it only took the Internet four years to reach an audience of 50 million; and it took Facebook just two years and Twitter reports 50 million 'tweets' per day!"
Social media, undeniably, crosses generations. Martin reminds us that "the point is that companies must be aware of the role technology and social media play in the daily lives of multiple generations."
NYWICI’s Feb. 13 Social Media Week event, "Bridging the Generation Gap: Reaching Baby Boomers, GenX and Millennials," went a step further and set out to answer the question, "How can communicators reach a diverse population when there is a new generation that is used to communicating in 140 characters or less?" With Stacey Sager, Reporter for Eyewitness News on WABC-TV Channel 7 in New York, moderating, the panelists passed along their wisdom and experience.
Phyllis Weiss Haserot, President and Founder of Practice Development Counsel and a specialist in improving relations among generations in the workplace, offered these insights:
  • Challenge your own preconceived notions.
  • Remember that people have different learning and listening styles regardless of their generation.
  • Be aware of industry-specific social media platforms, like LinkedFA for financial advisors.
  • Preference quality, long-term relationships over any particular quantity of Likes or Followers, unless quantity holds a unique relevance to your brand.
  • Younger people, in contrast to those 40+, tend to have an affinity with their devices and check them more frequently.
  • Social media affords you the opportunity to respond quickly to questions and errors.
  • To know where and how to distribute your message, you must know your target market. The Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College advocates a Prism of Age that considers dimensions including chronological age, tenure and career stage.
Susan Rinkunas, Online Editor for Rodale's Women's Health, known for her successes with digital engagement and content creation, shared some great take-away tips:
  • Pay attention to what social media excites you and your colleagues in real life. Women's Health started posting to Pinterest because their editors used it.
  • People want a social media destination. Post full links and direct URLs. Don't simply ask readers to Like you on Facebook or drop the hint with an icon; link them to your page.
  • You want your Facebook content spread to other walls, beyond your own. So, take note of the “people are talking about this” metric on Facebook brand pages. And, remember to look at this metric on your competitor's and ally's brand pages too.
  • Tweets that include hashtags generate more engagement than Tweets without hashtags. When choosing hashtags, ask Who is my message for? and What hashtag is appropriate?
  • Remember that content for one (social) media channel can come from another.
  • Work with your demographic to tailor your message and to schedule your social media activity. Women's Health shares motivational tips in the morning but does not include links with these, in an effort to build good rapport. Around lunch time, they post lunch tips. And, after work hours they post workout advice and dinner ideas. If Women's Health sends out a survey, they do it around 8:30pm or 9:00pm while people are likely at home.
Nick Charles, Editor In Chief / Executive Editor of Content with Kaplow Communication Inc., had these ideas: 
  • Facebook can be used to reconnect with past friends and acquaintances. But, teens use it to initiate connections and then put it down in their 20s in favor of face-to-face interactions.
  • Babyboomers and older generations are very interested in the rules of each social media. One Twitter best practice worth abiding is the two-hashtag- per-tweet limit. 
  • Social media present an opportunity to create brand awareness, consumer engagement, build relationships, and convey Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Broadly, CSR is what a company does beyond sell a product to better the environment, the community, etc.
  • Social media are part of young people's activity and activism; they use a social network first then take action. Earlier generations gather in-person first and then turn to media.
  • Mommy bloggers are significant influencers. Her demographic is a great one to reach, but you first need her to look at and use your product.
  • Find your influencers with a listening study. Discover who gets mentioned, retweeted and quoted. Survey those people and determine if they can become your brand ambassadors. 


Moderator: Stacey Sager (left), Reporter, Eyewitness News on WABC-TV Channel 7 in New York

Nick Charles, Editor In Chief / Executive Editor of Content, Kaplow Communications
Phyllis Weiss Haserot, President, Practice Development Counsel 
Susan Rinkunas, Online Editor, Women's Health at Rodale

The event was part of Social Media Week. 

Event type: 
Cocktails & Conversations