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Social Business for All Generations?

12.27.2012
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I come from a generation where social is built into our framework. We Tweet and we give constant status updates on Facebook. We knew how to use LinkedIn the first time we logged on. We feel that when older people get on Facebook and share pictures of cats and say “Love, Mom” at the end of Facebook comments that they’re ruining it. They’re ruining the experience of social. But does the same hold true at work?


In my internet travels, I’ve run across so many blogs that talk about why businesses need to get social, persuading their internal teams to turn to collaboration solutions and measuring the ROI of these solutions.


However, at work the older people feel the demographic is changing. Twenty-somethings are know-it-alls when it comes to social software. They’re changing everything in the workplace. The struggle for me in being empathetic with older generations is how they don’t see the ROI. How can they require numbers for measuring business collaboration and success, when I see it obviously as a part of my daily routine?


My generation never picks up a phone. My generation always texts or emails before giving someone a phone call. We would rather take the time to type what we want to say rather than just say it. But we’re also not very resourceful. We tend to ask questions before we’ve searched for the answer, probably out of sheer laziness.


My generation is also clique-ish. We don’t want to intermingle with other departments. To get answers from them, we want to email.


The fact of the matter is, we want to help ourselves, but we’re also lazy. Social business tools are a way for us to connect with the more knowledgeable, older crowd that typically holds all the answers.

Social business software is not just for us though, most platforms are easy enough to use for someone as lazy as a 22-year-old or as old fashioned as a 54-year-old.


For me, the workplace is where the young know-it-alls meet the old know-it-alls and they come together to share information with the quieter, lazy ones who passively receive answers. Your acquisition of new social business software and embracing Enterprise 2.0 has more to do with your capacity for change and tolerance; your persistence toward trying new things that might not work and your satisfaction level with the current status quo.


Perceived age differences come from a matter of perspective and those with a vested interest in not changing things.

“Old” and “young” are more self-fulfilling prophecies and mindsets than defining characteristics, especially in the workplace.

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Kelly Reiser.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)