Helping Newbies Understand Social Media

by Ken Mueller on June 1, 2012 · 21 comments

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older woman using laptop Helping Newbies Understand Social MediaToday’s guest post is from Liz Jostes.

For so many of us in the online and social spaces, navigating a brand new social platform for the first time is rarely confusing or difficult. Our past experiences and exposure means that we intuitively work through set-up screens, never flinch at app approvals or username questions, and immediately look to make connections on a new platform based on connections we’ve already established on all our other social media platforms.

For those of us who teach others how to properly use a social media or web publishing platform, we frequently have to “go back to basics” in order to help our clients get started. But our clients’ individual backgrounds and – often – ages can greatly impact how we approach and conduct our training.

I recently had the distinct pleasure of helping my 65 year old mother join Facebook, which puts her in the 2nd biggest year-over-year growth age category seen by Facebook. What made teaching my mom that much more of a challenge is her complete lack of internet and tech knowledge. To best put this in perspective: my mom still signs into the AOL program to access her email (though they do have high-speed internet in the house), and of the handful of texts she’s ever sent me, my favorite read:

“icantextbutdontknowhowtospace”

My list of top take-aways from helping my tech-challenged mother join Facebook are below:

  1. Privacy is a huge issue – Not that any of us should take our online privacy for granted, but as soon as she made a few Friend connections, she immediately panicked over a couple of them knowing she was out of town and visiting me for the weekend (She lives in Chicago and was visiting me in Memphis). Her fear was that one of them would post something about her visiting me out-of-state, a thief would read that, and her house would be burglarized.
  2. Making decisions about default profile settings requires more analysis than choosing your retirement plan –  This may have been the most tedious part of the process. There are so many choices within your personal Facebook profile, plus options for each status update. Also, each decision seemed to spark some other type of worry: “Why would people share this with the world?” and “Don’t people worry about who is seeing/reading that?
  3. Notifications can be stressful After our initial profile set-up and her asking to be friends with a dozen or so people, she opened her email to a flurry of Facebook notifications. I sensed real urgency from her as she sorted through them, along with a feeling of her being overwhelmed. Because of this, I told her that all these notification emails are set up by default, but she can uncheck several boxes to only receive notifications for the activities that matter most to her.
  4. Words like “feed, “stream” and “wall” mean nothing Even the most basic of terminology needed to be explained. She kept asking me, “So where’s this ‘wall’ you keep mentioning? Show me my wall!
  5. If all they know is email… That’s all they have to compare social media to. My mom kept asking me how people ‘send’ her news and photos. It took a few conversations until she grasped that her Friends are posting updates for her to read if she chooses; but no one is actually sending anything to her.
  6. Engagement is a two-way street Those of us who live and breathe social media understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ to proper engagement. But users like my mom can have a hard time grasping the need for the posting of updates in order for news or photos to be spread. I received a handful of, “Well, why am I not seeing any updates by Sandi?” type questions. I also made a point to explain that she needs to post something every once in a while, too, if she ever wants any of her family or friends to hear from her.
  7. Friends who are active can seem overly chatty We all know that it takes some time for your social connections to grow. So in the mean time when you have something like 25 friends, you’re going to want to tell Cousin Bob to shut the heck up because his thrice-daily posts comprise 80% of the content on your wall.

Educating my mom about Facebook is just one example. It could be Twitter or Pinterest or blogging. And it could be assisting a 40 year old man or someone who considers MySpace to be cutting edge and hip. Training others to use and thrive in the online world requires seeing it through their eyes (and often a great deal of patience, too).

I’m proud to say that my mother is now on Facebook and signs in at least a few times a week. Sure, she still may be lacking a profile photo and the posting of any status updates of her own. But for someone who still asks me to open her .docx files for her because she can’t access them with her severely-outdated version of Word, I consider this to be a huge success.

What are some challenges you’ve faced educating clients on how to go social?

Oh, and Liz’s post reminded me of this video which made the rounds online last year. Enjoy!

 

Liz Jostes 150x150 Helping Newbies Understand Social Media

 

Liz Jostes is a marketer and consultant with Eli | Rose Social Media. Originally from Chicago and currently living in the land of Dixie, she relishes in the flavor of fried pickles and BBQ, but longs for deep dish pizza and a proper Chicago dog.
 
 
 

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14 comments
SurferWife
SurferWife

Love this so much!!  And it also reminds us that there are MANY like Liz's mom out there that we social media consultants need to appeal to.  They are out there and they are lurking!!

ShakirahDawud
ShakirahDawud

Pleased to meet you, Liz. Fried pickles, eh? I'd take the deep dish anytime, myself! The points you illustrated about your experience with your mother were so well chosen. The questions, paranoias, and irritations newbies have with social media are far different than the ones we totally immersed users have, so it's smart to pay attention to those difference when dealing with them as clients.

annelizhannan
annelizhannan

I laughed so with that video of the elder couple, no matter how many times I saw it. You really have to give them credit for trying and trying and trying. 

LizJostes
LizJostes

 @TheJackB There's a big ol' sigh and eye roll tied in there, isn't there? ;-)

LizJostes
LizJostes

 @annedreshfield If my mom ever mentioned even in passing that she was considering leaving AOL, I'd be chomping at the bit to get her on Gmail. But right now I'm struggling to convince them to simply open a web browser and navigate to AOL.com instead of opening the entire program. :-)

LizJostes
LizJostes

 @SurferWife And I love you so much! Heck yes there are Liz's Moms out there! And if they are in the growth sector, we all will be coming into contact with more people like her.

LizJostes
LizJostes

 @ShakirahDawud Thanks! Great to meet you, too! Fried pickles are an amazing culinary creation, but you have to have them as slices, not spears. I appreciate your thoughts on this! It was a good, eye-opening experience, that's for sure!

LizJostes
LizJostes

 @KenMueller  @DannyBrown Well, happy "set up for the weekend" to you both! I'm glad my personal misery made you both laugh. :-) And Ken, thanks so much for having me over!

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