Sunday, May 25, 2008

Are MIddle-Aged Women Embracing Social Media?

My good friend and social media guru, Tom Parish, and I fell into conversation the other day about social networking and us midlife gals. Tom has a social media consultancy that helps enterprises like BMC Software incorporate social media into their business strategy, both internally and client-facing. So, he knows a thing or two about the trends in this space.

I was pondering just how engaged women roughly mid 40s to early 60s were, and would be, with blogs, social networking sites, podcasts, and the like. Obviously, this isn’t a homogeneous group, and there are plenty of women in this age group who are blogging and using these other media. But in general, I think this is new territory for a majority of us.

From the women I talk to, we as a group are still more comfortable with magazine style websites than blogs, email than RSS, reading others’ comments than adding our two cents’, and using the web as a tool rather than a pastime. I had breakfast yesterday with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long while, who says the personal nature of many blogs is off putting to her. TMI, she says. I’ve been told the same by others.

Tom acknowledges the truth of all that, and points out that it wasn’t that long ago that the idea of us women regularly using this thing called the Internet to shop, sell stuff we didn’t need anymore, find the love of our life, find others dealing with similar life issues, and read consumer reviews before making a major purchase would have been incomprehensible.

Many of us have gotten comfortable with certain aspects of Web 2.0 and Tom guesses that more and more of us will find our way to other social media. We may be slower to hop on board, but in time we’ll get there as we see the opportunities for connecting and sharing with like-minded women with common experiences and interests. .

It’s mind boggling even to me the way the web facilitates connections that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. I’m collaborating with a fellow blogger, Karen over at Midlife’s A Trip , on some things and we were laughing the other day that we’ve never actually met. But the social nature of the web has allowed us to connect around our common interest of how midlife women are redefining what it means to be at the center of life.

I hope it is as Tom predicts. I see how fast the world is changing and I see that those who do not keep up by at least being familiar with these things and understanding their implications can be left behind. I don’t think we women can afford to be behind. I want WomenBloom to be a part of helping midlife women get up to speed.

I do see points of light. My 73 year old Mom isn’t one to embrace change. But even she has used Craig’s list, and I actually convinced her to post in the WomenBloom forums.

Good gracious, can blogging be far behind?? :)


Hill Country Hippie said...

I've spent my entire adult life being the only luddite in a family full of geeks. Just a couple of months ago, my husband finally pulled me (kicking and screaming) into the 21st century by convincing me that I needed to transfer my paper journal, about life in the Texas Hill Country,to a blog. Now I'm so hooked, I could never give it up. Why? For the very reason you mentioned - connections! I am now part of the most amazing network of creative, talented women. I finally know what it is to have a network - it's as if we are all connected to one another by invisible threads, and they form a supportive safety net that inspires me to be more adventurous.

Allison said...

Yes, it seems so intimidating at first, and it is quite a big cyberplace out there. But, if you calm down and give yourself time to figure it out (if I can, anyone can), it's amazing the people you can meet.

It just makes people you otherwise couldn't dream of meeting, accessible!

Really cool stuff, thanks for your comments!

Karen said...

Hill Country--I love your description of the invisible safety net and threads that connect us in the blogsphere. It's really amazing isn't it that we can "meet" one another out here, form friendships and be a support network for people we share so much in common with but may never see face to face. Karen

Carol said...

My friend who works at Hewlett-Packard uses the analogy of immigrants. The younger generation are technology natives, we are technology immigrants, needing to learn a new language and culture. And our parents are "from the old country" - they may never learn the language.

What I've found is that when time is short I put less time and effort into my blog and visiting other blogs. I think blogs are like plants, the more you nurture them the more they grow.

Allison said...


Ah yes, I've heard of 'digital immigrants' versus 'digital natives'. I thought it was a very useful way to look at it.

Your comment about putting the time in to nurture your blogging activities is also true about getting more tech savvy in general. Like learning a foreign language, it may be harder as we get older but we can do it with time and attention.

And the way I see it is all this tech stuff is only going to become more pervasive in our lives as time goes by. Better to make friends with it than hope it goes away :)

Thank you so much for visiting and sharing your interesting insights!