Are You a Digital Native or Digital Immigrant?


by Mike Dickman

 

Have you noticed that in the last 5 years, electronic gadgets no longer come with user manuals? If you want to learn how to use your new iPhone or Xbox, you jump on your computer and ‘Google it’. That is because the majority of users are considered to be Digital Natives – those whom have grown up with electronic devices. The rest of us are Digital Immigrants, those whom have had to immigrate into the new world of technology. That is why this thing we refer to as Social Marketing seems to be so foreign, so scary, and childish. And by the way, when did Google become a verb?!

Recently, I spoke before a group of business people regarding Social Marketing and how they could become engaged, without being overwhelmed. The first thing I wanted to clarify was the difference between Social Media, Social Networking and Social Marketing.

Social Networking is something all of us have been doing for years. We all have been participating in local Chamber events and fundraisers. And, while some may think they are doing it to support the cause, the real motive has been to network, right? The only difference is with online networking, you don’t need to leave your home or office. It’s quite a bit less personal from what we are all used to, but it works. And, in some cases, it can actually provide the social courage to join a group or participate in a conversation.

Social Media can be defined as the software which is used to participate in social networking. So, think of the Media as: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and the latest, Google+. These are the tools that marketers use to market their brands and products, socially, online.

Social Marketing is the act of preparing a marketing plan based on the use of Social Media and incorporating the social aspect with the business’s overall marketing objective.

Notice that the words ‘Networking, Media and Marketing’ are all words that we have used as part of our Marketing dialogues for years. However, the key to Social Marketing is in the word ‘Social’. Social Marketing is just that – SOCIAL. It is word of mouth marketing, peer-to-peer. It is all about a conversation, referrals and sharing.

So, some of you are probably thinking that you don’t need to be chatting with a bunch of high school and college kids on a social network. “They are not my client or prospect demographic.” But did you know that the fastest growing age group on Facebook is 55-65 years old? And, a new user joins LinkedIn (considered to be the ‘professionals’ social network) every second. This year, more than 93% of marketers are using social media for business. And it’s major brands that are doing this. Why? It’s because they can have a persona. They can appear to be human. They can influence thoughts and behavior because we think of them as peers or friends – because we LIKE them.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you are participating on a social network on your computer that you have everything covered. Social Marketing goes far beyond the social networks and desktop computers and extends your marketing into the mobile realm. Are your business and personal reputations mobile ready? In my next article we will discuss taking your marketing mobile. And we don’t mean sticking a magnet on the side of your car!

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