Small Business Strategies: Let Gen Y be your guide in social media

Gen Y girl computerIt’s easy for a small business owner to be a little freaked out about social media. We know it’s out there, we are starting to understand that it’s probably here to stay, and we have no idea how to get in the swim of that raging river rushing past. How are you supposed to figure it all out when you’re also busy running your company?

Get a Gen Y employee to show you the territory.  If  you don’t have a Gen Y employee handy, enlist a young relative to help. These Millennial kids grew up with computers and assimilate technology faster than we Boomers can figure out how to microwave popcorn. Social media, for them, is a natural extension of being online and has quickly become a huge part of how they operate in the world.

Don’t be shy about admitting  you need their help.  If you’re over 35 or so, they already assume you don’t know what you’re doing, at least in this area. They’ve grown up programming VCRs for their moms and adjusting ring tones on their dad’s cell phones, so it’s natural to them to assume the role of technological expert.

Be open to the beauties of social media. Instead of  huffing and puffing about it being too complicated, look for ways it can improve your business and your life. Can it help you build stronger relationships with your clients? Provide introductions to potential customers? Reconnect with old friends? (Yes,yes and yes, it can.)

Start small. Don’t try to take on every social network at once. Maybe begin with LinkedIn or Facebook. Have your Gen Y guide help you set up your account, your profile and a few connections, and then sit back and watch for a week or so until you start to get a feel for how other people use that network.

Enjoy learning something new. As adults, we have few opportunities to truly stretch our intellect. I’ve heard more than one social media expert admit that getting up to speed on this stuff provided an intense period of intellectual challenge. But you can quickly learn enough to begin using social networks with confidence, and may even want to explore some social marketing ideas for your company. Before long, you’ll find yourself trying to teach other people how to do it.

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