Journey To The Information Cul De Sac

I am not a technophobe. I am quite the opposite, in fact, at age 51.

I own a MacBook Pro, which is my second Mac. My first Mac was an original desktop bought in 1992 for $6,500 with a 20 megabyte hard drive. The new one costs half that and has a 500 gigabyte hard drive.

In between I've owned about 20 Windows computers, at home and work.

I've owned an iPhone4 for nine months and ordered my iPad2 last Friday. I own a Kindle, second edition. I had an AOL account when all that got you was access via modem to "AOL world." I started an interactive agency in 1994 and put Coca-Cola on the Web before Microsoft launched Windows 95.

Today, my company owns 32 domain names and I oversee five active Web sites, two blogs and a monthly email newsletter with a subscriber count of 6,500.

I have active accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Plaxo, LinkedIn and Flickr. I just joined Quora (don't ask. Wait, wait, I mean do ask ... go to the site and you'll see what I mean).

I have bought and done all of these things under the guise of bettering myself and my business. To enhance my life personally and professionally. I've done much of it because our company had something to share and these new technologies enable our insights to be seen and heard by our prospects and clients.

Yet, today I also find myself at a dead end.

There are simply too many outlets, too many self-publishing options online to share our thoughts and insights. Everyday we track, via Google News Alerts and other tools, all that's being said and reported on Boomers, and marketing to Boomers. The good news is that there is plenty to sift through. The bad news is that the nuggets of useful information are harder to find.

In a world where anyone with a computer can be a publisher, anyone can be a publisher. Content isn't king, it's everything. From everyone.

My kingdom for an editor.

As a publisher of seemingly useful information for those interested in marketing to today's Boomer consumer, we see two obstacles. First, there are many voices with similar platforms. On the surface, all seem equally qualified and talented, but closer examination shows most rely on smoke and mirrors, repurposing insights provided by others, rarely adding to the knowledge base. There's nothing keeping them from cutting and pasting their way to a presence on the Web. Retweet that.

The second problem is there are too many outlets, too many "channels" for distributing content without any barriers. Tweeters tweet. Bloggers bloviate. Everyone has something to say so they say it, and then comment on it. And then someone "likes" it. Like it matters.

Can our company really maintain a meaningful presence on Facebook, Twitter, our blog, YouTube and LinkedIn and still maintain as a business? Ha! The no-upfront-cost aspect of having a presence in social media comes with an extremely high time cost.

We simply cannot be all things to all people by appearing in all social media. Nor can we consume all social media. We're going to pick and choose. We're going to focus our efforts where we can have a presence and share insights for an audience that knows us and appreciates our work. The scattershot approach is not a viable strategy for us.

And it likely isn't the best strategy for those marketers trying to reach Boomers online. Just as you would select a handful of print magazines in which to run your ads, you should select a manageable number of social media sites to build a presence in. Leave the rest to others.

Pick your route on the Information Superhighway, keeping in mind there is always more than one path to success.

Tags: baby boomers
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11 comments about "Journey To The Information Cul De Sac ".
  1. Gary Kreissman from Group PRM , March 14, 2011 at 10:26 a.m.

    Matt is right on here. It is all about editing, choosing your battles and media - and more about Return on Time than simply ROI.

  2. Jeff Weidauer from Vestcom , March 14, 2011 at 10:44 a.m.

    Great insights, and dead on target. As a 50-year-old early adopter (I have a first-gen iPad and first-gen Kindle), I still haven't learned my lesson about jumping in early.

    But I find keeping up with the flow of info on the ever-expanding number of sites becomes more difficult each day. And to your point, most are just rehashed information.

    For me it begs the question: if everyone is a publisher, who is the audience?

  3. Jennifer Finger from KeenReader Inc. , March 14, 2011 at 10:46 a.m.

    I agree completely-and I'm not a boomer quite yet.

    It's hard for me to keep up with so many sites too-time-wise and cost-wise.

    Jeff, everyone else in the world is the audience when everyone's the publisher. When one person has to do it all, like me, ooooooooooh boy.

    I'd be willing to bet that businesses will one day adopt CSMO (chief social media officer) as a corporate position-and probably some already do or are contemplating it.

  4. James Pasquale from ChasmCrossing Solutions , March 14, 2011 at 11:03 a.m.

    Matt:

    The crutch of a matter here is context something the web and all the socialization one can do can't do. Context is at the very heart of what we want when we want it and how. Cloud Computing and the Cloud in general help address the ecosystem of contextualization.

    Companies are adding APIs (application program interface) are aiding to the efforts of chaining information (the data supply chain) together, however one company called Kynetx, has gone beyond the API, through the cloud, building context, by using events as the basis to do so.

    The new era of web 3.0 is called the live web. And there are some amazing things you can already do in it.

  5. Matt Thornhill from Boomer Project , March 14, 2011 at 11:33 a.m.

    Guys (and Jennifer):

    Thanks for the feedback so far. I think one transition that is taking place with the Millennial generation is from content that has been moderated/reviewed/selected by someone (the programmer at the network, editors in print) to content that is unmoderated. The sifting falls on the individual.

    Us Boomers, having grown up in a world where someone sifted for us, this transition might prove difficult.

    For Millennials, used to their own sifting, it might be second nature.

    Note to Jennifer: You can't be "not a Boomer quite yet." It's not a life stage, it's a generational cohort, born from 1947 through 1964. You're either one by birth or not.

  6. Matt Thornhill from Boomer Project , March 14, 2011 at 11:35 a.m.

    *1947

    I meant to type 1946 but fat fingers let me down, again.

  7. Barb Chamberlain from Washington State University Spokane , March 14, 2011 at 2:31 p.m.

    Except for the Mac affinity--my early-adopter thing was staying up late to edit DOS .BAT files for fun for my Leading Edge Model D2, which was a 286--I have the same experience, complete with 300-baud dial-up modems and BBS chat before there was an AOL and adoption of many of the latest platforms.

    I see articles about the value of curation to help address the overload. I completely agree but have very little time to do a good job of curating. I find that each day I create more content (both personal and professional) and consume less. What I do consume is very much on the fly, for example reading tweets and following links on a transit ride home. I'm not engaging as much with what I do read except for the occasional comment like this one.

    In the era of the Attention Economy, we're all going to end up bankrupt.

    @BarbChamberlain

  8. Ellen Huxtable from Advantage Business Concepts , March 14, 2011 at 5:14 p.m.

    I very much agree with your observations on the ever-increasing opportunities for social media. As in all efforts, I think keeping focused is key. (It's difficult, though, especially for those of you who are more techno-adept, as there are always new tempting toys out there!) As a later adapter, I do miss out on the big initial rush, but I believe I somewhat compensate for that by being able to invest my time in those channels which have survived and gained traction, rather than every new opportunity on the block. Thank you, early adaptors, for sorting the survivors from the also-rans!

  9. Maruchi Santana from Parham Santana , March 15, 2011 at 12:27 p.m.

    Matt- I'm also 51 and doing everything you are doing! Having fun, but using a lot of my free time!

  10. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct , March 15, 2011 at 5:37 p.m.

    Matt -

    Excellent observations. I'm struck that the web's inherent power is also it's biggest weakness. The idea of "whatever you want" also means that audiences fragment to a degree where it's difficult for an intelligent provider like yourself to find pockets of substantial power.

    Social media doesn't undo this fragmentation - it merely makes it even more rampant. My network of 20 or 30 highly active friends is difficult to find, reach, and attract to action. But we're only 20 or 30 friends - so is it worth the effort?

  11. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , April 10, 2011 at 10:53 a.m.

    Step back and take a breath. It is still true when people have too many choices, either they don't make one or choose vanilla. Nobody hears anything in a cacaphony no matter how much important information is buried in there. Discuss among yourselves.