Navigating the Daunting World of Social Media at 65
According to a recent AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) survey, most seniors are feeling much better about aging than many would expect. I, too, feel upbeat about being 65. I feel great about my varied exercise schedule at the YMCA. I love bicycle riding, which is a challenge in hilly Atlanta. My 28-year-old daughter is an incredible person who affords me much nachas (pride). I adore my cats, my neighbors, and my home, and I am inspired and excited to do so many cool things. I’m very excited that after 45 years as a social worker, I am starting my own business. I could go one and on about how much I enjoy this stage of my life.
However, there is one thing that causes me to feel utterly old, stupid, and somewhat defeated: social media. Who would have thought that out of all the things an older person could feel bad about, being so far behind the technological curve is what most frequently leaves me in tears of frustration and discouragement.
As the founder of Better Instincts, a new business start-up, understanding social media is essential for the success of my business.Over the past five years, I worked with multiple design engineers to redesign Kiwi’s Climber, a floor-to-ceiling cat climber/scratcher that I invented with a friend 20+ years ago. Visitors to our home rave about how my climber uses no floor space, mounts almost invisibly to the end cap of any wall or doorway, and requires no hardware or drilling holes in the wall (see kiwisclimber.com). It is an ingenious product that comes at a time when the ever-increasing number of cat owners are looking for pet products to entertain and be entertained by their beloved pets.
In order to get the word out about Kiwi’s Climber, I’ve hesitantly downloaded Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, TikTok, and many more apps. I’ve hired young professionals to do this work for me, but it has been challenging. Some millenials don’t take us old boomers seriously or value our experience or history as having any market value. Concurrently, I might explode next time someone says, “Just post it on… You can do it! It’s easy!”
I’ve struggled to accept that the social media people I hire most unfortunately live on the other side of the country, or even planet. There is nothing wrong with the freelance social media marketing world being global. However, I am not global. I prefer actually meeting with people in person, which I realize is very old fashioned and sadly obsolete.
Another dilemma is that everyone tells me I must be posting consistent content of myself, my cat, and my product on various social media platforms so that I can be ‘trending’ or that I even have to make a wild video so that I can “go viral”. The thing is, I never really cared about being a viral trend. Enough complaining; I will figure this out. My crowdfunding campaign raised 109% of its goal with 10 days to go, despite my social media person jetting off to South America. In addition to being undercapitalized, this social media stuff has been the toughest part of my entrepreneurial experience, and I wonder if it might also be the case for other new, older entrepreneurs.
Despite this challenge, I remain psyched about upcoming aspects of this endeavor. I am looking forward to being a transitional employer for formerly incarcerated women. I am thrilled to locate my company at Saltbox, a new incubator warehouse, shipping, and office space for small E-Commerce businesses and start-ups. Furthermore, I am very excited to go to my home town of Cleveland, Ohio to visit the factory where my recycled plastic climber sections are being manufactured, and I am burning to work with other companies to drive the demand for and supply of recycled plastic. Of course, I look forward to making and selling increasing numbers of my super clever product to cat people everywhere. For better or worse, I continue to learn how social media marketing is key and I refuse to give up. I will find ways to co-exist and thrive.