It’s comical, to me,  these days that we get outraged when people are always on their cellphones.  As a society, I guess we are used to cellphones being visible, but we aren’t used to them acquiring 90% of our attention.  I think it’s funny because our reaction is predictable and passive aggressive.  Interestingly enough, 91% of the traffic to my website is from mobile devices, and my business would be in trouble if it had to depend on desktop traffic alone to get sales.

 

As a parent of children with cellphones, I cannot only relate to the complaint, but I know what works and doesn’t work when trying to change their behavior.  My understanding is from experience of course, but I am also a watcher and a reader. One of my “go to methods in life” is looking to those who have what I want or have been where I’ve been.  Begging or complaining to my children about being on their cellphones never works.  Instead, I realize how important it is to them, and I realize that if I don’t have an ear to the ground about where they are hanging out IRL (text slang for in real life) or virtually, I’ll any lose any control of what is going in their minds and hearts.  

A couple dining.  He was reading and I believe she was calculating the tip.

A couple dining.  He was reading and I believe she was calculating the tip.

 

This mindset has kept me up to date with all of the trends of social media, and luckily it also greatly benefits my business.  During a recent vacation, which at varying times included one to six children, I studied their cell phone usage and asked lots of questions.  I came away with a greater understanding about the up and coming generation.  Instead of having distain for mobile devices, they will have no qualms making 90% of their purchases on them.  My kids might think I’m a geek for knowing so much about cellphones, but I secretly take pride when they refer to me as their tech parent.

 

So, let me share the things I took away from my vacation.  These takeaways are for parents and business owners (marketers, entrepreneurs, networkers).  Yes, these groups are a wide demographic, but stick with me.

 

  1. Set parameters for how much time you or they can spend on social media, like no cellphones at the dinner table or maybe you choose the hours or minutes they can spend on social media.  Most importantly, make sure you demonstrate the behavior you desire.  I know social media is a total time suck.  I live with Facebook open on both browsers at all times, so exercising discipline in this area will speak volumes to your children.
This restaurant in Highlands, NC kindly asked us not to use our phones.

This restaurant in Highlands, NC kindly asked us not to use our phones.

 

2. Don’t denigrate your children or the general public’s choice of escapism; you push them away when you do this.  Instead, let people be who they are.  If it’s not the best choice for you or your family … that is your choice.  But, end that thought there. Please don’t judge others.

 

3. Ask questions of the end user, whether it’s your child or your customer.  What do you like about this game or site, or do your friends go there too?  A funny thing about customers is that they typically like to talk about themselves, so make it about them.  You win if you can find out why they do what they do or what problem they are trying to solve.  The same goes with your kids.  It’s a natural phenomenon for children to gloat when they know something their parents don’t know.  When parents are clueless about text slang or speaking in relatable post terms, their children want to roll their eyes and leave the room.  It makes them feel like they are maturing, so laugh along with them.  Handling yourself this way will make you approachable instead of judgmental.  By all means, don’t become angry or get your feelings hurt.

Katie is kind of a big deal on Snapchat. I'm pretty sure 99% of her selfies are a part of communication that we used to call texting.

Katie is kind of a big deal on Snapchat. I'm pretty sure 99% of her selfies are a part of communication that we used to call texting.

Gary Vaynerchuk and me.  He is a gracious selfie granter.

Gary Vaynerchuk and me.  He is a gracious selfie granter.

4. Selfies, Selfies, Selfies.  It is a compliment if your children are taking selfies while on vacation.  It means they are having fun and bragging to their friends about the trip you planned.   I know some parents have strict rules about selfies, and I see the benefit.  But, if the selfie is on Snapchat, and it goes away after it’s viewed, then to me that’s different than having an Instagram page full of your own duck face selfies.  Instead of putting this phenomenon down, tell your children they are gorgeous or handsome, but make sure they are not looking for approval from social media that they would rather receive from you.  As a marketer, you should be delighted when you are asked for a selfie.  Selfies with your product or even with you is golden exposure that you don’t pay for.  So, if you’re asked for a selfie, just be grateful.

 

Just random strangers waiting on the shoppers in their party in Asheville, NC.

Just random strangers waiting on the shoppers in their party in Asheville, NC.

 

I love internet marketing, and I love most things tech.  I’m not bothered by changes or upgrades.  But, my children often make fun of me about my Snapchat stories.  This past week I heard a 16 year old boy mention that he was on Facebook and his 15 year old sister exclaimed, “Who are your friends…… a bunch of moms?”  There was a LOL from me, and they all looked in my direction.  I asked, “Is it true?”  He said, “Kinda, not really.”  (I don’t have time to explain that response).  

 

Seventy-four (74%) of all internet users are on some sort of social media.  That is roughly 2.2 billion people.  Find out where your customers and/or kids are hanging out online.  This is extremely relevant, and you should know.  If you don’t know, then don’t wait.  Find out.  Do it, now!

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