I was having dinner the other night, with several friends of mine (who were all about my age) when the conversation drifted to facebook and twitter. Without meaning to, I found myself defending the medium as my peers explained, they had no time, they didn’t see the point, and they were just fine watching the 10 PM news to find out what happened that day.

Every time I end up in a conversation like this, I feel a little strange. Let’s face it, I don’t fit the stereotype of the typical Social Media “Expert or Militant” I am too old, I am not a techy, and I am not a guy. But somewhere along the way I became a Social Media Advocate.

As a result, I told my friends to get a clue because social media is not just a young person’s game. Whether they want to keep up with what their kids are doing, connect with old friends, get the latest news or simply people watch, social media is where it is happening.

So if you are in that group of people, who think your are too old for Twitter this post is for you. Here are the basics of what I tell my friends on how to get started in social media.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices, but you can’t use that as an excuse not to try any of them. You have to jump in, and it almost doesn’t matter where you jump first. Facebook, Smaller Indiana, Twitter, LinkedIn or Plaxo will all have their pros and cons. Find one which your friends, peers, business associates or children (and maybe grandchildren) are using. Connect with people you know, watch how they use the tools and learn from them.

  • Start slow, listen to what others say, share little pieces of you at a time. Begin with the basics: contact information and a good photo, and build from there.
  • Budget time, maybe 30 minutes a day for social media. Make it part of your routine. If you read the newspaper and make a few phone calls to start your day, scan social media for headlines, and chat with a few people on line. Social media is just another way of doing what you already do off line.
  • Don’t be afraid of making a mistake. The fluid nature of the web is like sand castles and the ocean, very quickly what you say is washed away by a sea of other comments and communication.

Alexandra Samuel admits it is impossible to keep up with all the new technologies, and it is ok to stop trying to do what everybody does and find what works for you. She says:

What is available is choice: choice among social networks, choice among software programs, and choice among hardware options.

But most crucial of all, the choice to stop keeping up with all the shoulds and must-haves, and to start choosing technologies that support the goals and priorities that matter to you.

It seems I have written posts like this before and it surprises me how many people are still sitting on the sidelines. If you are in a corporate gig, it is time to jump in! The connections you make today may lead you to a new job tomorrow. And if you own your own business, you need the connection with your clients!

And if you are already playing, do you have a favorite tip for the new folks?


Social Media Survey  Part Two:  How do You Use Facebook?

We are conducting a follow up to our first social media survey, and would love to know how you  use Facebook in your business. It is only 20 questions and we would love to add your answers to the study.  Go to  Facebook  study .