Have you ever attended a social event and ended up talking to a young adult, perhaps new to the workforce and most likely clueless about investing? You may have tried to explain all the merits of getting started early. You’re aware how these situations end: the slightly dazed twenty-something politely thanks you and immediately discards everything you’ve said. Investing often seems daunting to newcomers. There seems to be too much information to get started, so many younger professionals get a late start, and then find they must struggle to catch up to their peers.
Recently, I attended a retirement celebration luncheon, hosted by my friend Beth in honor of her husband. A scenario unfolded that was similar to the investment discussion scenario. Curiously however, the roles were reversed. Celia, a twenty-something, was offering advice on starting social media marketing for a new business venture to Kyle, a middle-aged lawyer. By the end of their conversation, he seemed to wave her away; I saw confusion and what appeared to be a look of fear on his face. Over dessert, I asked Kyle what the source of his resistance was when it came to social media. He admitted that, while he had a simple website, he really didn’t feel comfortable with going further. “I know I’ll do it wrong.”
The Name of the Game
As many of you know, the most popular social media sites are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Have a cup of tea, relax, and let your mouse do the work; these sites walk you through the steps of getting a page up, running and published within an afternoon. Social media is designed to be social and, you know, fun. Since professionals, businesses, moms, and teenagers—representing users from so many countries possessing a wide range of tech savvy—access these interfaces, the set-up processes are low on the frustration and difficulty scale. It’s all quite intuitive; getting started doesn’t entail much more than filling out a form—the first step toward your business name being populated into social media username databases. We call that “visibility.” And, the only way to “do it wrong” is to not do it.
On Being “Good at it”
Tech firms in Silicon Valley have embraced the philosophy of “Done is better than perfect” for years. What better way to reinforce the importance of proactivity? [You can always improve upon what you’ve created, later.] This maxim is rumored to be plastered on the office walls at Facebook. Leveraging social media is akin to any game you’ve ever played. You may have enjoyed the game during your first round even if you weren’t so skilled. The more you play, the better you get and you tend to gain a deeper understanding of the nuances. However, just establishing a social media presence isn’t a nuanced process. That is the single most important lesson here. You don’t have to be an expert at the game on Day One. You just have to play.
I suspect the fearful ones are afraid they may break the Internet. (“What if I accidentally post a check-in at my boss’s house on every Facebook status?”) Honestly, it’s a little ambitious to believe that any of us are capable of breaking the Internet, because like the cockroach, the ‘net can survive just about anything. It will always grow and morph and adapt to new terrain, prevailing more resiliently than ever.
Isn’t the purpose of the Internet to help us with all our questions? (Seriously, how did we survive before Google?) If, in fact, you believe that you’ve broken something, just ask the question. You’ll soon realize you are not alone in whatever life dilemma you face: “Why does my cat attack my feet?” or “Did I break the Internet?” (No, you did not.) And, for a really useful application of Google, you can search relevant questions such as, “How do I un-tag people on a Facebook status?” Google is unshakable; there’s not much you can ask it that it hasn’t heard before.
Giving in to fear of the unknown would be the biggest mistake. The rewards of social media participation are too great to be overlooked. It’s time to get Nike on yourself and “Just Do It.”