Social Media and the Generational Divide: Is it Real?

Some years ago, I saw a cartoon in a magazine that showed a Boardroom, Chairman standing at the head of the table, members sitting on both sides, with the caption (paraphrased): “We were going to pay a company $200,000 to create our web site, but my middle schooler has offered to do it for a skateboard.”

Today, that Chairman may be shrugging his shoulders when he is advised that he needs a professional on-line profile – as do the members of his Board.

This past year I have had a combination of wonderful and dismal experiences with business owners and their Social Media buy-in or rejection. Let’s get the dismal ones out of the way first.

An industry about which I care a great deal is represented by both large commercial enterprises and much smaller “Mom & Pop” players. The latter profess a lagging interest in Social Media, regarding it mainly as something they need to watch out for in their children’s activities. Their lack of understanding and comfort is often expressed by the protestation: “I don’t have time for that; I’m too busy finding more buyers (clients, customers)”. For them, the connection between Social Media and sales and marketing does not exist.

Let’s come back to that Chairman – and his peers, typically the mature male at the peak of his career, who in the past few years has almost become an endangered species and is now the “prematurely and involuntarily retired corporate executive”. He is on his own now, struggling to start a consulting business (his expertise is unquestioned), and he knows he has to learn what this Social Media stuff is all about and how to use it to his advantage.

This is where the wonderful experiences have come in. These are the people who, when reminded that even a dozen years ago they were not sure that e-mail would be here to stay, are now “getting it”. They’re having their pictures taken by professional photographers, they’re bringing their LinkedIn profiles up to date, are adding connections and requesting recommendations. Have you noticed, by the way, how delighted people are (for the most part) to write recommendations for you? It’s flattering to be asked! They are following companies on-line, answering questions in serious forums and have started to devote calendar space to on-line networking with the same fervor earlier devoted only to in-person meetings and outplacement seminars.

So, is there a generational divide? I don’t believe so. Certainly, the 30-year old pursuing new career opportunities is more at home in Social Networks than the 55-year old, who lost his V.P. job in an M&A two years ago, but he is catching on fast – and good for him!

Like e-mail in the nineties (and the fax machine before that . . .), Social Media are today an indispensable aspect of doing business.


Lya Sorano is CEO of The Oliver/Sorano Group, Inc., a 30-year old business consulting firm that specializes in marketing, public relations and Social Media strategies, with special expertise in LinkedIn optimization and language localization.

At core a writer, Lya Sorano was born, grew up and was educated in the Netherlands (University of Leiden) and has traveled, worked and lived in more than two dozen countries around the world. She credits a high school teacher with her love for language.

Now a longtime metro Atlanta resident, she established Atlanta Women in Business in 1992 as a membership organization for business, career and professional women and incorporated Atlanta Women in Business – Loans, Inc. in 2010 as a micro lender for new start-ups and new product or service launches by existing businesses.

She may be contacted at 770-455-8088 or

Category: Marketing

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  1. I’m glad to hear it! I think people are starting to understand the importance, but there are still many who do not, young and old.

  2. I’m glad to hear it! I think people are starting to understand the importance, but there are still many who do not, young and old.

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