JANUARY 8-14, 2010 | BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL | baltimorebusinessjournal.com 15
CHROSTOPHER MYERS | CONRIBUTOR
Freelance writer Carol Sorgen devotes time each day to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. ‘It puts me on the same wavelength as my clients,’ she says.
W A new kind of
hen it comes to using In November 2009, the unemployment
technology to market her- rate for adults over 55 years of age rose
self, 61-year-old Pikesville to 7.1 percent, up from 7 percent in Octo-
resident Carol Sorgen has ber. It’s the highest monthly unemploy-
worked to stay ahead of the curve — ment rate this age group has seen since
though she doesn’t necessarily consider October 1992, according to a report by
herself a techie. the AARP. The average length of unem-
But back in 2002, she was the first ployment for active job seekers jobs 55
among her self-employed friends to and older stretched from 33 weeks to 36
launch a Web site. Earlier this year, she weeks during the same period.
ventured into the online social world, Despite boomers’ hesitation to plug
gaining a Twitter, Facebook and Linke-
dIn presence. She spends about an hour Boomers seek comfort with online networking into social networks to improve their
employment outlook, industry experts
each business day updating and moni- say it’s never too late to log on. But they
E L I Z A B E T H H E U B E C K | C O N T R I B U T O R
toring the sites, sometimes posting to must first overcome barriers to using so-
Facebook relevant articles she’s written, cial networking for career purposes.
or sending a tweet — @BaltimoreWriter expected in today’s ever-evolving busi- strongly suggest that boomers — de-
— to let her 184 followers know she’s ness world. fined as being born in the postwar years, Coddled within corporations
searching for a source for an assign- “It puts me on the same wavelength as or between 1946 and 1960 — are, by and For many boomers, the obstacles are
ment. my clients,” she said. large, less than comfortable utilizing the more mental than anything based in
Sorgen’s not spending time network- And that, experts say, is a pretty rare Internet to drum up business, find a new technology. Such is the case with Mer-
ing online for social purposes, and she approach among baby boomers. Because job, or explore a different career path. edith Bower, a Baltimore public relations
is not entirely sure if her efforts have di- when it comes to using online social net- But given how hard the recession has consultant in her late forties who writes
rectly resulted in new work. But Sorgen working tools, Sorgen stands out as an hit this age group, some say boomers about Baltimore’s privates schools for
considers the platforms integral to main- early adopter among her baby boomer can’t afford to ignore the Web-based so-
taining a certain level of professionalism peers. Anecdotal and statistical evidence cial networking tools at their disposal. Please see SOCIAL, Page 19
NEXT WEEK’S FOCUS Page Page
Real Estate & Development
Reporter Daniel J. Sernovitz compiles a report card on projects
sure to be closely watched over the next 12 months and assess- Are boomers
es their progress in financing, construction and occupancy. friending on Facebook?
January 8-14, 2010 | Baltimore Business Journal | baltimorebusinessjournal.com boomer business | 19
social: Sharing personal info one market facts
Web 2.0 is cutting across demographic groups — millenials, Gen Y, Gen X and boomers.
hurdle to joining online networks
ocial networks are growing the growing and the most popular with all
most rapidly among adults over age groups.
age 35, according to a 2009 For- Now more than half of adults over
From Page 15 set clearly. rester Research study. Last year 35 are members of a social network,
“I came from a competitive, corporate the 35-plus set boosted its participation while one in five also blogs. It’s true,
Examiner.com, a Web site where local environment. You shared information by more than 50 percent. social media is no longer just a habit of
experts write about a variety of issues. with your colleagues, but you tended to Among the various forms of Web 2.0 20-somethings.
Though Bower has a Facebook page, keep things close to the vest,” he said. media online — including RSS feeds,
she generally doesn’t use it to promote blogs, social networks and online vid- Carolyn M. ProCtor | firstname.lastname@example.org
her work — even though Examiner.com bridging generational gaps eos — social networks were the fastest- Source: Forrester Research Inc. (www.forrester.com)
pays her more each time someone clicks The attitude appears to cut along a
on her published articles. generational divide.
“I know it’s up to me to push it more. “There’s a real hesitation by boomers Look Who’s Tweeting
I guess I’m not very good at using social to share personal information online, Increase in the use of social networks by the 35 to 54 age group.
networking,” Bower said. whereas people in my generation have
As boomers go, Bower is not alone. A grown up doing so,” said twenty-some- 60%
recent survey of boomers’ online social thing Ryan Goff, the social media direc- 2008
networking habits tor at marketing agency MGH Inc. 50%
hEy vE bEEn bears this out. Al- Some experts say that once indoctri- 2009
though 96 percent nated, users of online social network-
CoddlEd within of the 1,800 respon- ing tools often find it a very welcoming
thE CorPoratE dents said they use space.
e-mail to keep in “There are a ton of people who really 30%
struCturE touch with family want to help — there’s this spirit of gen-
yEar and friends, only
22 percent report-
erosity that runs through the [online]
community,” said Hollis Thomases, pres-
old wants an ed visiting social ident and CEO of online marketing and
networking sites advertising agency WebAdvantage.net. 10%
instruCtion such as MySpace For those who enter the online social
Manual .’ and LinkedIn. networking world with a career boost or 0%
Of those who switch in mind, Thomases urges users to Have joined a social network Regularly use social networks
Carlos Hernandez haven’t, more than be as specific about their needs as pos-
Social Media for the a quarter said they sible, noting their location and the type
Uncomfortable see no benefit to of employment they’re seeking. Boomer 2.0
social network- Others suggest that tentative boom- Percentage of the age group 35 to 54 who are using Web 2.0 media.
ing, according to the study’s creators, ers may be more willing to give social 60%
ThirdAge Inc., an online destination for networking a go if it’s accessible and fa-
boomers, and JWTBOOM, an integrated miliar. E-mail, according to the ThirdAge
marketing agency dedicated to reaching Inc. survey of 1,800 boomers, qualifies 2009
boomers. as such: 96 percent of respondents re-
Carlos Hernandez thinks he knows ported using e-mail regularly. 40%
why. That’s why the founder of Posterous.
Hernandez, a San Francisco Internet com — a 28-year-old with his parents in 30%
trainer who created the workshop So- mind — sought out an e-mail platform
cial Media for the Uncomfortable, aimed that would allow users to create their
largely at boomers, sees firsthand a lack own blogs. Via conventional e-mail, Pos- 20%
of comfort with social media tools among terous.com allows users to type text, at-
his trainees — even those he describes tach videos, sound and photos and then 10%
as seasoned, educated, multiple-degreed send content directly to their blog.
professionals. In line with keeping it simple, experts
“They’ve been coddled within the cor- also recommend that boomer users new 0%
Social networkers Bloggers Subscribers to feeds
porate structure. The 50-year-old wants to social networking tools target those
an instruction manual,” Hernandez said. that cut through the clutter. With this
Teaching boomers how to get around goal, online networking tool LinkedIn
social networking sites is one thing; presents a good starting point.
teaching them the mentality behind it “It’s targeted to business populations.
is another. Hernandez sees a long-en- It takes a lot of the personal stuff out,”
grained corporate mindset as detrimen- said Scott Testa, a social networking
tal to his boomer clients. Hernandez, guru and business professor at Cabrini
who spent 28 years of his professional College in Pennsylvania.
life in the electrical equipment manufac-
turing industry, understands this mind- ElizabEth hEubECk is a contributor in Baltimore.
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