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How to Convince Older Business Owners to Invest in Social Media

by Pantelis Vladimirou  |  
June 29, 2012

In this article, you'll learn...

  • Five social media benefits older business owners should know
  • Why all businesses should go social

Convincing older business owners to invest in social media can be difficult. They can be more comfortable with marketing methods of the past, and they can be reluctant to learn about the newest promotional techniques made possible by advances in technology, such as social media.

Here are five undeniable benefits of social media that could convince older business owners that social media is a worthy investment.

1. Social media is cheaper than most other marketing methods

Many businesses thrive while using social media, all without spending much money at all. Only a few promotional techniques yield a higher return on investment (ROI). Most of the costs of using social media involve design and implementation.

The most popular social media platforms today, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, are free to use. Perhaps the biggest investment is time. Building up a successful online network requires time; but once a company gains some traction, things often take off and grow quickly.

2. Social media results are measurable

Tracking social media marketing results is quite easy. The success of a campaign can be measured by the number of followers, fans, shares, likes, and additional website visitors it generates. All of those can directly relate to increased sales and leads as well.

You can also monitor the keywords associated with a business or brand across the Internet, at any time, as they are discussed by consumers. Reporting those results to older business owners is a great way to convince them of the value of social media as a marketing tool.

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Pantelis Vladimirou is managing director of Webarts Ltd, a Cyprus-based digital agency providing social media marketing, SEO, and other online marketing services.

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  • by JM Bonthous Fri Jun 29, 2012 via web

    I find the title of this article a bit biased and discriminatory.

    I'm 62, bought my first Mac in 1982, have been blogging since 1997. Was helping Fortune 500 establish online communities of practice as far back as 1996.

    I now make a living as a consultant trying to convince executives, most of them under the age of 30, to use social media. And I find many of them to be quite resistant and old fashioned in their thinking, even though most of them are highly computer literate.

    Most of them have obsolete, unidirectional communication-centric mindsets. Listening to their rationales, I hear myself 20 years ago...Social media adoption is not a matter of age, its a matter of mindset.

    I find it also an irony that one of the other articles proposed by HubSpot at the bottom of your article is about a new statistic that most of positive UGC is being published by baby boomers..

    It's about mindset, it's not about age...

  • by Steve Drake Fri Jun 29, 2012 via web


    Love your "it's not age, it's mindset" that counts.

    And, closed minds come in all ages.

    In working with associations and nonprofits, however, I find that older board members do seem to be a drag on the organization moving beyond legacy programs and services.

    Despite my advanced age (you are a youngster), I didn't take offense to this article. Rather, I look at it to glean ideas for the organizations that I worth with.

  • by Barbara Fowler Fri Jun 29, 2012 via web

    I recently wrote a blog about the same subject. I sent a business owner a copy of hubspot's video and his reaction was priceless. He refused to believe that real people would act like this. I am older than he is so it is mindset, not age, but the mindset does seem to prevail in older business owners. bfowler@chiefoutsiders.

  • by Alexis Fri Jun 29, 2012 via web

    Valid points in the article. I think an obstacle that is not really addressed is unfamiliarity of the social media networks in general. Any business owner, young or old that is unfamiliar is going to be naturally hesitant to adopt a new way of thinking. You have to bridge that knowledge gap. After they have been exposed to the opportunities from a birds eye view, it's easier to start making the changes, and convince them of the items above.

  • by Scott Scowcroft Fri Jun 29, 2012 via web

    I remember arranging a train the trainer workshop for the "Stay Active and Independent for Life" exercise program. I asked for volunteers from the local senior center to serve as practice students for the instructors-in-training. We heard later they told their friends, "it's a nice enough program, but not for me. It's for old people." These were women in the mid-70's to low 80's.

    Being labelled as "older" is a big deal because it has so much emotional self image attached to it. Can you imagine how risky it might be to forward this otherwise excellent article to your boss?

    I might suggest you rewrite this otherwise excellent article under a different title ... maybe "How to convince old school business owners to invest in social media." I might then feel more comfortable with sharing it with my "older" associates.

    By the way, I myself would like to think that 60 is the new 45.

  • by Don Tepper Fri Jun 29, 2012 via web

    Leaving aside the "older business owners" slam, the article fails to make its point. The way to convince any rational business owner--young or old--to invest in any new medium is to demonstrate its ROI--to show that it's effectively reaching the right target group with the right message and producing the desired results. It's that simple. And in this regard, the article fails. Let's consider some of the points made by Vladimirou:

    "Social media is cheaper than most other marketing methods." First, that's totally irrelevant. Which is better: To spend $2 on marketing that produces $1 in sales? Or to spend $5 on marketing that produces $10 in sales? Cheapness does not equate with value. The article asserts that social media produces a high ROI, but without proof. Further, the article quickly breezes past the perhaps considerable investment in time and human resources. "
    Most of the costs of using social media involve design and implementation." Well, duh! It's the implementation that can be the real expense.

    "Social media results are measurable." Yes and no. The article continues: "The success of a campaign can be measured by the number of followers, fans, shares, likes, and additional website visitors it generates. All of those can directly relate to increased sales and leads as well." Followers, fans, shares, and likes do NOT necessarily correlate with increased sales. You've got to measure sales (and, actually, the profitability of those sales along with the lifetime value of the customer). Measuring likes and fans tells you nothing about ROI.

    "Businesses cannot afford to miss out on the opportunity." Oh, please! "Informing older business owners that their competitors are using social media is often enough to interest them in getting started in social media." And if little Johnny jumped off the roof, would little business owner Billy? Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but in business you don't win by flattering your competition. Nor by imitation.

    "Social media content lives on forever." This statement is largely incorrect, and that's a good thing. Yes, technically you might be able to find some past campaign somewhere online. But social media, as a practical matter, is far more ephemeral than print or other methods. And that's a good thing because companies change marketing strategies. They reposition. They change their target demographics. The last thing a company would want is for a message developed for another group in another time period to interfere with and blur their message today. Look at the problem Mitt Romney is having with his current opposition to the Affordable Care Act . . . when he was the architect of its Massachusetts forerunner.

    I'm not saying that the use of social media is a worthless exercise . . . simply that the article didn't provide any justification for its use.

  • by JM Bonthous Fri Jun 29, 2012 via web

    One more agency with a Klout score of 15 giving social media lessons to the world.:)

  • by Scott Scowcroft Fri Jun 29, 2012 via web

    Thank you Mr. Tepper for your analysis. Too often it's too easy to take things at face value.

  • by Robert Gilmour Innfinite Fri Jun 29, 2012 via web

    We've heard all this before a million times. Social media take up is nothing to do with age, its to do with effectiveness, and right now, even my younger hotel clients to date have found it virtually a complete waste of time and money, and very dangerous to sacrifice other higher priority marketing activity or worse still shift proven spends to social media activity. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, and many 'older' business owners are wily, and experienced, and have a proven record of success which most of the social media gurus and evangelists totally lack.

    Look, when are all the social media experts going to learn that marketing, and marketing spend, is about priorities - and companies large small young or old don't have bottomless pits of time and money, and in fact hate social media being constantly pushed in their faces.

  • by Roy Young Sat Jun 30, 2012 via web

    Great subject, Pantelis; and great conversation, all. I especially resonate with Don's comments. Top management will notice if the activity moves the revenue needle. So, first focus there.

    I have also found that an once of fear can be an attention grabber. Fear about disconnecting with existing customers and fear of being beaten by competition. Tracking social networks on these dimensions can also get management's attention.

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