I’ve discovered that silver hair and a shiny head equals brain dead!

How can I be so sure? Easy – all the young ones tell me so. And I must confess that their aptitude with the techno world does leave us old farts a little disadvantaged and somewhat badly damaged. Let’s face it, how humiliating is it to discover that next door’s five year old is a whiz kid with the VHS.

Not to be dissuaded, some five years ago, I set out to ensure that I discovered enough about the Cyber world to ensure I had a firm grasp on what works as a marketer. I’ve learned a lot since then – not as much as the young, keen egg heads who surround me these days, but enough to know what works and what doesn’t.

Just lately I’ve been watching, researching and listening to a tirade of psycho babble about ‘Social Networking’. Most of the babble is just that, but some of it is just plain wrong and it’s coming from the older gen. In my day, and theirs, you could almost predict the methods a consumer would use to source information. With no internet, email or fax machines, communication was pretty unsophisticated. Press, TV, radio, direct mail, that was just about it in terms of delivering your message. You just told them!

Today consumers source information in all kinds of ways and to be honest the biggest change is that companies can no longer talk at the consumer. Now we have to engage in discussion and let people create, discover and share information. You can’t just ‘tell’ them these days.

Social Networking works because it is difficult for organisations to manipulate. The ‘social gang’ are going to take the product apart and they come up with their own interpretation based on quality, taste, style, etc. and all the benefits. Using the social networking structure, they can be brutal and honest. They can bag you unmercifully, if you deserve it and bring you to your knees overnight. Now that’s bad news for companies with ordinary products and services – but… …if the ‘gang’ find in your favour you can order that Ferrari right now. When they love what you do, when you arrive on the right side they don’t just buy the brand, they join it!

So getting your social networking right is vital. Whatever you do, do not dismiss this phenomenon as a cultural fad. Facebook and Twitter are mighty powerful and if you don’t have them, they’ll have you.

I’d like to tell you that I’m an older, wiser, more sophisticated guy with silver side pieces, a chrome dome and a love of watermelon wine, but I have to be honest with you, I’m a slut really. My Facebook page is littered with chatter and friends – all with opinions and if you think you can escape their critique – try reading a page or two of Facebook tonight and be afraid… be very afraid