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Not on Social Media? Get Ready for Extinction

After a long day's work, a successful, middle-aged CFO walks into a bar and sees three open bar stools. The first stool is sleek and modern with a label reading "Millenials" across the back. The second stool is old and wobbly, with chipped paint and a label that reads "Baby Boomers." The third stool is simple, but made of steel, and its label reads "The Greatest Generation."

The CFO doesn't even know what a "millenial" is, and the baby boomers stool looks like it's about to collapse, so the CFO heads toward the stool labeled "The Greatest Generation." As he gets closer he sees a scruffy 20-something year old with an iPhone in his hand grab the stool and ask for a Yuengling. The CFO now has only two options: the millennials or baby boomers stools. He takes the baby boomers stool and sits in that stool for 2 hours, waiting for it to collapse and still not knowing what a millennial is.

Meanwhile, the young Yeungling drinker has used his smartphone to Google "what is the Greatest Generation," then reviewed the latest mentions of the phrase on Twitter, checked-in and posted a picture of his retro beer (captioned "Wish I could share this one with Gramps!") on Facebook & Instagram to let his friends know where he is, helped the bar get some social media marketing, and helped Tom Brokaw sell another book.

Ah, the power of social media.

Whether you are a baby boomer, hipster, millennial or indeed a member of the Greatest Generation, it's time to get social. As we approach the middle of 2015, there exists a saying that if a person doesn't have a social media account, he or she simply doesn't exist.

The Internet provides a vast collection of tips for getting started on social media, but the most basic and important tip to know is that it's never too late to start. Once you start, it's easy to become hooked, so make sure you plan and stick to your social media time allotment each day. Focus on the quality of your post and how it aligns with your company or professional persona since a careless focus on quantity over quality could result in you aligning your reputation with something you'd rather not.

Think about sharing not only what you want to say, but put yourself in the shoes of your customers: What do they need to learn? What is affecting their industry or profession? Can you share via social media an announcement about your company, your opinion on a subject that is important to your customers, or did you read an article that would be helpful to share with your customers? These are all things you can easily share on social media, which can lead to you being perceived not only as a thought leader, but as a modern organization that recognizes the importance of participating in the social media conversations every day. Just make sure you check out the old 80-20 rule for balance and effectiveness.

The social media landscape is constantly evolving (LinkedIn is full of surprises, too!), so not only must you commit to starting, you must also commit to learning and evolving with the changes that this fascinating vehicle for communication provides. 2015 is a great year to get started if you haven't already, and there is some interesting research about what 2015 will hold for social media.

And the next time you walk into a bar and see three empty but distinctly different stools, just think about all the amazing information that has been both shared and consumed via social media by the different folks who have sat in those stools. What an amazing way to learn and be relevant -- Happy Tweeting!

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