I have been nagging, cajoling, pressuring and even bordering on bullying my 67-year old mother to get a Facebook page. She is a long-distance grandmother, and laments not being involved in the daily lives of her grandsons. My sons and I are active Facebook users, and events from the monumental to the mundane are duly posted on our pages. My mother’s friends are in the know about her grandsons, but the only way she can be up-to-date is if her frazzled daughter remembers to call her (only on her landline though, which is a whole other story).

Like most members of the Silent Generation and many Baby Boomers, my mother is computer literate, uses email with ease and surfs the web daily. However, social media for seniors and online purchasing is not an option for her. “Everyone will know everything about me,” or “People will steal my information,” are her objections. Even though I remind her that people still steal mail out of mailboxes and rob banks, she cannot move beyond seeing her computer as a potential enemy. We live in a time where checkbooks and yellow pages are almost obsolete, leaving out in the cold those who have relied on these information and communication sources for most of their lives. This evolution has repercussions for business. New technology has emerged allowing for more efficiency, greater cost savings, and highly personalized service within the business world. Ignoring a huge target market’s barriers to adoption leaves businesses with two choices: either maintain two ways of doing business (inefficient and costly), or alienate current or potential customers (who wants to do that?).

We see marketing campaigns focused on creating a buzz around technology, mostly geared toward those who are anxious to have the newest and coolest. However, one rarely sees advertising geared toward converting the reticent or fearful, making them feel more comfortable about joining in the hype. Businesses which rely on the adoption of new technology, such as banks, libraries and arts communities, and organizations which represent business, like Chambers of Commerce and associations, must take on the responsibility for bringing the nervous nellies into the fold.

For example, banks could provide financial incentive to this target market to attend classes on online banking at a community center. Local business associations, whose members rely on their websites and social media to bring customers through their doors, could hold social media information sessions as well. Organizations dedicated to the arts, who already use community outreach as a way to attract patrons, are also a natural fit for bringing new users on board.

The introduction of new technology changes the way we communicate with each other. Businesses and organizations that rely on this new technology for business operations and growth must be the energy behind bringing all of their customers into the conversation. I hope someone will, because my mom sure won’t listen to me!