Are digital natives, those who were born in an era when electronic devices were prevalent and in their hands from the moment they were old enough to hold them, better equipped in this current era of social and digital media?
Let’s take a few minutes and discuss that because I can shed a little light on the differences between digital natives and digital adopters.
(If you’d rather listen to this as a podcast, just click the link on the podcast player below. If you’re more of a reader, I have you covered below the player. If you’re reading this via email, you might need to click through to this post on my website to see the player. Whichever way you choose, I’m glad you’re here to discuss this topic.)
Younger People Were Born With Social Media
I have this discussion on a regular basis. Suffice to say this belief still exists. Digital adopters, those who adopted these digital skills a little bit later, are the ones I hear these concerns from most often.
They share different reasons, but these are the most common:
“I wasn’t born understanding how to use these tools. I wasn’t even born when email was alive. I have to learn all of this. It doesn’t come naturally.”
“Those who’ve been using it for a long time, well, they get it. They didn’t have to ask questions. They can just hop online and do whatever it is they need to do. It comes naturally to them.”
What Do Digital Natives Think About Digital Adopters?
Not to leave them out, but I see equally interesting comments coming from digital natives, such as:
“You know what? The digital adopters, they’re old and they don’t understand how to deal with all of this technology.”
We Need To Stop
What we need to do is to stop this line of thinking from both camps because this is misguided and limiting age-related stereotyping, believing that someone who is younger and was born with these devices is so much better equipped to handle this era of social and digital media, or those who are older can’t handle it because they are older and didn’t grow up with it.
Social Media Aren’t Going Away
If we are expecting to ramp up our conversations and our ability to create and nurture relationships with people in this world, then we have to acknowledge a few things. First, we have to acknowledge that social and digital media are not going away. We are not suddenly going to pluck tablets, telephones, PCs, laptops, smart speakers, and every other smart device out of peoples’ hands, homes, offices, and desks and expect that they’re going to go back to communicating the way that everybody used to communicate before those devices were so commonplace.
Similar to email when it came out, social media can be scary and intimidating if you don’t understand how to use it. Email came and it made things a little bit more efficient, actually a lot more efficient, and it didn’t go away either. In fact, it’s stronger than most people realize as a marketing and communication tool, but that’s a topic for another day.
Age Doesn’t Determine Ability
The second thing we have to stop assuming is that one’s age is the sole determining factor in whether people are or aren’t equipped to deal with social and digital media because that’s just not true.
Knocking Down The Myths
Let’s tackle the first, those who are digital natives who were born with these devices and got to play with them from a very early age. They got mom’s or dad’s old iPhones and they got to play games on them. They couldn’t do much else on them because the phones weren’t enabled.
The assumption that these digital natives are the people who are going to be so much better at communicating via social media is way off base. It also doesn’t mean they won’t be good at using social media.
Using technology from an early age does not guarantee better comprehension of marketing and communication. People don’t just pick up electronic devices and naturally understand how to communicate with others, and how to instinctively know how to go through what I call “The Seven Stages of Social Media,” which we can talk about another time.
Early use of technology does not mean human beings are born with the communication skills needed to connect via social media.
Conversely, just because someone is a digital adopter does not mean they came with those same marketing and communications skills that are prerequisites for effective use of social media marketing. They had to learn them along the way and are probably still learning them.
To assume that if you are older (older does not mean old), you cannot handle learning how to use these devices is selling yourself short of your potential. Do I need to remind you how smart you are, and how you got to where you are today?
If you can go to law school, and you can do what you’ve done in your life, trust me, if you are interested, and I think that’s the key right there, if you are interested, you can learn how to use these tools faster than you can even imagine.
Stop Selling Yourselves Short
It has been 15-20 years since these tools were commonplace. They were around before that, but those were the days when they were being developed and discovered.
We are past the point where anyone should be assuming that someone young, a digital native, is going to be better or going to be worse at using social media, or being the gatekeeper of the brainpower needed to understand the technology needed to be a good or bad communicator. None of this should be assumed and none of this should be taken for granted.
The same goes for digital adopters. Just because you didn’t have these tools in front of you until you were 25, 35, 45, 55, or 65, does not mean you are ill-equipped, or that you cannot be equipped, to use them.
Don’t tell me that your brain doesn’t work that way. I know your brains. I work with you all the time. I network with you daily on social media.
I see how your brains work. Again, you’re pretty smart people, so stop selling yourselves short.
If You Are Interested, You Can Do This
Here’s what I want you to do.
Set aside a few minutes here and there to understand how all of this works. Learn the overarching basics of social media marketing and networking. Start with one platform. You can even have somebody help you who can say to you:
- You know what? This is how you stay out of hot water.
- This is how you stay out of trouble.
- This is what you say.
- These are the things you can say.
- These are the things I wouldn’t say.
Let’s decide we are going to get past these stereotypes because, if not, then we are ignoring tools that can provide a wonderful complement to everything else you’re already doing in business development and marketing.
This is important because this means growing your practice, which is your business. It means filling the relationship pipeline that is critical to sustaining a profitable and successful career.
Are you ready?
Let me know what you think about this.
Remember, I’m here to discuss what’s on your mind that might either be limiting or enhancing the growth of your practice.
Nancy Myrland is a Marketing, Business Development, Content, Social & Digital Media Speaker, Trainer & Advisor, helping lawyers and legal marketers grow by integrating all marketing disciplines to grow their practices. She is a frequent LinkedIn and Twitter trainer, as well as a content marketing specialist. She helps lawyers, law firms, and legal marketers learn and implement business development practices that are more relevant to their current and potential clients. She also helps lead law firms through their online social media strategy when dealing with high-stakes, visible cases. As an early and constant adopter of social and digital media and technology, she also helps firms with blogging, podcasts, video marketing, voice marketing, flash briefings, and livestreaming.
If you would like to reserve an hour of Nancy’s time to begin talking strategy or think through an issue you are having, you can do that here.