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Once Upon a Time in America

Yvonne-DiVita Once upon a time in America women were Moms who stayed home and lived in the kitchen. They bandaged bruised elbows, served cookies and cocoa and made sure the dust bunnies were banished to the wastebasket.

That was once upon a time. I was a child then. And, that person did not live at my house. Which why I think of that time as a misty fairytale era.

Today, women are active in all facets of industry - sales, communications, marketing, medicine, engineering, and any other career parth you care to name. Some of these women are Moms, i.e. - females with children, usually children still at home. Some of these women are executives at large corporations or small businesses. Some of these women are entrepreneurs. Some are single, some married, some choose to remain childless, some ache for a child but have none.

Some of these women are emerging personalities - still in their late teens and eager to be rid of that childish label. Some of these women are young, the world calls them Generation Y. Others are young but are part of something called Generation X. The two are exactly the same, but different, as my niece used to say about two very different but similar items/movies/foods/toys/books.

Once we leave Gen Y and Gen X-land, we enter into..."old" where women are labelled Baby Boomers or Seniors, and they are alternately looked upon as powerful divas with money to spend (on themselves, their kids and grandkids, and on charity), or as aging matriarchs who eagerly join groups like The Red Hat Society , often perceived as clinging still to the spice of life they felt in their youth.Hard-working-entrepreneur

None of these labels or descriptions reflect the real women I know.

This point was brought home to me today when I was over at Engage: Boomers reading Matt Thornhill reporting on the popularity of social media with the boomer crowd. His numbers showed that more women than men use the tools we consider part of social media. His math says "76% " of Facebook's recent new adult users are women. (Facebook, it would seem, is the tool of choice these days. I am not a fan. I am there because you are there, but...it's NOT my fav place to be.) 

But, of course, the people engaging in social media, dominating social media, are women!

That's not Matt's point. I dug that realization out by myself. Matt's article is actually a rub against news reports citing an increase in adults over 45 at Facebook as proof that boomers love social media. Because of that number shift, Matt points out that marketers believe they need to embrace social media to reach the boomer market, as if it's the holy grail. No, he didn't say "holy grail"... I did.

Matt advises marketers to: "Hold your Benjamins." (gotta love it! he's so clever and such a good writer)

As he explains, via Stanford psychologist Dr. Laura Carstensen, "Older adults narrow their social interaction to maximize positive emotional experiences and minimize emotional risks of investing time in relationships that are not positive."

Here's my problem - I'm totally on board with emotional connections, but...Matt seems to be stating that social media isn't the answer because we don't have an emotional connection to "it." Ummm... hello? I am not wedded to social media, any more than I was, in the past, wedded to my newspaper. So, yes, I have an  emotional attachment to the people, but since the tool allows me to connect with them more effectively, I find myself attached to it, also.

Dr. Carstensen says boomers are selective about who they network with. True? Yes and no. Really, I separate family and friends from business colleagues, but I use social media to connect to all of them. And, guess what...the two overlap. Clients often become friends. Social media allows me to manage that. I definitely get stressed when twitter is down or when I can't get in touch with my network via this blog. Someday I'll videotape my emotional state when that happens. Or, maybe not.

I'm not arguing with Matt. I trust his research and I agree with his statements. Here's what I think, though - once upon a time in America, life was all about people talking to other people, where "people" was mostly women because women like to talk. And...then the PC was invented. And women slowly but surely discovered the power of bits and bytes and talking to people in far, distant places. Wow!

Boomer or otherwise, women fell in love with the net (it doesn't get more emotional than that), and claimed it as their own. An explosion of voices connecting across not only states but countries. Woman to woman, Mom to child, wife to husband, daughter to Mother, sister to sister, and on and on.

As Dr. Carstensen says, we are selective. But, in a different way, I think. We are selective enough to hang around in more than one social circle, online and offline. We are emotionally connected to all of them, in some way. The key is to understand that one circle may hang out on Facebook, another on Twitter, and yet another down at the local coffee shop. 

 What's up with this adoption of social media by "the boomers" - most of whom are women? What does it all mean?

For me, and many of my women friends, it means you need to stop calling us "old."It means we're tired of being labelled "boomers" (seriously, the association is a negative one). And we don't really need you so, if you want to build a relationship with us, tread carefully. Get your wife to introduce you. If you're female to begin with, get your mother to introduce you. If you're already a member of our group and we're dissing you - look hard in the mirror and ask yourself, "Am I too much about me, when I should be more about them?"

Get a head start by hopping over and reading Matt's article. It's worth your time. I'd love to know your thoughts on it.


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John Sternal

Thanks for the info and link to Matt's article. It still amazes me that we don't have a stronger understanding when it comes to marketing to women - on all levels. I have lots of clients in the auto industry and I see this everyday. Thanks for the info I'll be sure to pass this on to other colleagues.

John Sternal

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