Not long ago I was attending a conference for women in business. During the Q&A, a woman who had been presenting on a marketing topic was asked about social media. I sat stunned as she answered: “Oh, social media? I leave that to the kids.”

So much was wrong with this statement. For example:

  • How can you possibly work in marketing today and not acknowledge the role of social media?
  • By indicating you are too old to learn (or even understand) something, you’ve just made yourself obsolete. Do you really want to be a dinosaur?

Unfortunately, this woman was not the first person I’ve ever heard express the sentiment that social media is for the “kids.”

Somewhere along the line, some people started to believe that social media is best left to interns and other “young” employees, while the rest of us, especially Baby Boomers, should do the “real work.” Well, these days social media is real work.

Recently, my 20-something daughter was asked to “do” social media for the small company where she was working. She respectfully declined and said: “You should really call my mom instead.” I’m sure her boss wasn’t expecting to hear this! (As it turns out, I ran a full-day workshop for the firm.)

When I lead social media workshops, middle-aged participants are usually shocked to see millennials in the group: “Why are you here? Don’t you already know this stuff? Aren’t you one of those digital natives?”

I smile when I hear one of these so-called digital natives respond: “Well, I do use Facebook and Instagram to communicate with my friends, but I don’t know anything about strategy and I don’t even have a Twitter or LinkedIn account.”

Here is my unsolicited advice for people over 50:

  • Occasionally hang out with people younger than you, both online and in person. Don’t be afraid to be the oldest person in the room.
  • Keep learning. Sign up for courses, workshops, webinars, whatever.
  • Read books, magazines and blogs about the latest trends in your industry. Listen to podcasts. Don’t get stuck in a time warp because “that’s they way it’s always worked in the past.”
  • If you have children or other young people in your life, talk to them about what’s happening in their world. Where do they get their news? What are they reading? What apps do they use? You may discover new artists, books and music while you pick up some cool tech tips. Plus, your kids will enjoy being the teachers for a change. (As for me, I’m listening to one of my daughter’s Spotify playlists as I write.)

What has your experience been around the question of age when it comes to social media?