Want to learn about social media, get up for breakfast

995326_22286617Listen closely at breakfast and you can confirm what for many folks is still hard to believe. Official studies, market research and business news headlines report:

• Top business executives in their 40s use Twitter every day or several times a week, according to a June study by Forbes and Google.

The number of Facebook users 18-25 years old decreased by nearly 600,000, while their parents (and grandparents) used the networking web site in record numbers last month.

51 percent of small businesses surveyed in March told Sage North America that they use social media to acquire and retain customers. Also, 57% said tough economic conditions are “very” or “extremely” important in their decision to use social media as part of their business strategy.

Choose to believe these surveys and the experts who compile them — or not. But you can get closer to details about how older adults are adopting social media for their personal use and, yes, for business, by listening to what’s said around the breakfast table.

I swear I didn’t bring up the subject Tuesday morning. Didn’t have to.

Sitting to my right was the vice president of an aerospace manufacturing company. He’s past his company’s traditional retirement age and plans to keep on working because he says he still has fun every day. Six months ago, he told me he just didn’t get Twitter. On Tuesday, he led the conversation, talking about searching for auto racing fans online and keeping up with nieces and nephews who share family news on Facebook.

Sitting to my left, a Procter and Gamble manager in her late 50s raved about how a new Apple computer makes it so much easier for her to share photos online and stay in touch with family.

Across the round banquet table was a regional bank’s vice president who never mentions her age but instead says she’s close enough to retirement that she can see it. She’s convinced our civic group’s annual conference next spring must include training about how to use Twitter and Linkedin, Facebook and YouTube to promote our volunteer projects and help people become involved in community service.

I know in my head a sea change is happening to how people and their businesses choose to communicate. After reading study after study and reports about online usage, I get it that older adults are quickly embracing social media.

But I believe it after breakfast chats like these. I can see it. I just trust market research gathered over eggs, sausage and a glass of V8 juice more than that gathered by the experts.

Still don’t believe this growth of social media for networking and communicating is the real deal? Don’t take my word for it, either.

Get up early and catch up with what’s being talked about at breakfast.

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