Originally posted in April 2013 by Social Media Contractors

I am 45, and I have to say that when I started getting into “Social Media,” I did so with great resistance. I did not understand why social media mattered. I had no desire to know what anyone — friend, family, or celebrity — had for breakfast, or what any pop singer or athlete was thinking, doing, or getting arrested for.

I simply could not fathom why people would want to put out information for all to see, especially when I had no desire to know most of the crap that was being posted or produced.

Word of Mouth

This belief changed with a jolt — a full shift in my “old guy” thinking. I own storage facilities. Not very sexy, but a good little business. But how on earth does this involve social media? One facility– Self Assured Storage– is located at the entrance to Fort Riley in Kansas. The facility has a self-service kiosk that allows folks to rent a unit whenever they like and is one of the primary ways we rent units.

On visit to the area to talk with my manager, I spent some time in front of the kiosk as renters came up to pay for or rent a new unit. I was excited at the opportunity to interact with these “kids” — most of them brave soldiers, members of The Big Red One. My intention was to give them “old school” customer service, and maybe I could learn a few things. In every case, these kids preferred to interact with Avatar on the screen rather than with the eager “old guy.”

When asked about how they heard about us, the answer was often, “buddy told me,” followed by the lifting of a smart phone to refer the method of delivery of this news.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew that at this this facility, the majority of our reservations had been coming in from Afghanistan and Iraq, but now I was seeing “how” most of our referrals were coming in. Social media is simply word of mouth communicated via a device and your thumbs, not unlike the old-guy way of talking over coffee. It’s the same thing but with a different delivery method.

Join the Conversation

For all of us, of all ages, we typically trust referrals of people we know. For my dad, this may be via talking with the guys at Thursday morning church breakfast, or maybe a phone call. For many people my age, it is likely email, a phone call, or a Google search. For most young folks, people under 40, and a growing segment of the population, word of mouth and search is done via social networks through groups of people they trust.

The reality is that most people make most decisions — whether buying a product or service, finding a job, or learning about a brand — through word of mouth. The question comes down to the way you are engaging in that word-of-mouth conversation. The exciting part is that social media allows everyone to participate in the conversation. The important part is to make sure you are getting in front of the right people.

Take it from an “old guy.” Social media really is for you. It’s just word of mouth with a worldwide audience.

Kris Kluver is the founder of Social Media Contractors, and he isn’t getting any younger.

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