My Son turned 20 the other day - he's a great guy - I'm a proud Dad. I was talking to him "man to man" about social networking on the web.
"You know what makes you different than me?", I said. "Other than the fact that I'm 6'1", and handsome...", he responded - ok, a little humility is in order. "Yea, other than that - I mean online", I said.
"I'm a guy who's spent his whole life using the computer to work - it's been a means to an end for me, for the baby boomers. We don't see it as entertainment, really, not at the deep levels of our psyche. Our generation started out with green letters on screens - and we sat there to accomplish something with the computers - take it from me PONG wasn't that fun!
Your generation sees it as fun. You started, at about 5, with a Mac. There you were, a little guy drawing pictures on kidpics. Then you graduated to some fun, interactive video games. Along came the teen years and Napster and Kaza music downloads - then it was Myspace and Facebook. For you, it's all been social, a blast, fun, a way to connect with friends.
When I get on the "puter" I'm always trying to accomplish something and get off - like leaving work. It's a means to an end. It can be something I want to do - just like I bought my beautiful sailboat online. I searched and searched - then I bought. Now I want to go sail - so I use the computer to find ports, find parts (lots of parts), and spend even more money!
And I do love looking for RealEstate on line -on Realestock of course (I'm not too interested in all the MLS based sites, I want a vacation home). I like to search for the next great vacation spot for the family. But, when I'm done, I want to book it, buy it and go off-line and use it. I want to get on the screen and get off. For me the network is satisfaction that I've seen comments, commented, that I've searched and asked questions, that I've done the job -even if the job was fun - vacations, real estate or buying a luxury item.
Your generation, you and your oldest sister (don't even get me started on your little sisters and "Webkins" - that's a whole other generation and discussion) will sit there and howl and laugh and use emoticons ... LOL. You guys are up and coming - but let's face it, my generation are the ones inking the checks for the millions to buy these lifestyle items like properties, resort getaways, yachts, cars and jewelry.
You'll post stuff on each others "Wall." You'd just as soon talk online, or on SMS than on a phone. It's your social basis. My generation uses it for our lifestyle now, to find stuff - answers to questions about stuff, talk about stuff, lifestyle stuff. We get on and then go do other stuff, off line. Just like when we have done our work use of computers - we've been ingrained this way from our careers."
Social networking is for the midlife space has escaped most sites online so far. Even with sites like "Linked-in.com" - it's been about linking to other "work related" resources. I think our generation finds the computer interesting, fun and informative to find stuff on-line. In fact I think we like to work at our job of having a great lifestyle this way, using our computers - it's our comfort zone.
We need better tools to do it, more easily, and it's not Facebook. We think and network differently, in a more objective oriented way. We are interested and engaged in these big lifestyle decisions we are making - like buying our dream home, second home, third home, our golf/spa vacation.
It's like the jewelry I wanted to buy for my wife. She found it online. She even showed me the picture (strategically around February 10th before my business trip to New York) I couldn't remember the name of the designer - but I remembered it was Tiffany's. So I went to the store in New York and told them. They the took me online and we searched together. "That's it," I said. I recognized the picture. It worked - I was a hero on Valentines Day this year.
So whether it's your dream sports car or yacht, Jewels or a Penthouse in Manhattan - fun is part of it, for sure. But, I bet you one thing, our generation is online because, in the back of our minds, we want to make a decision based on what we found, what we discover, comments. We want to make the right decision, and when we're ready, we'll buy. Let's face it, we've been doing this a long time - it's why we can have the lifestyle we want now!
I keep this in mind when designing RealEstock with my Team. And we see this at work everyday with savvy searchers and buyers around the globe. Find a luxury piece of real estate - become an exclusive by invitation only member, and get the real scoop. The people on RealEstock are there, because they will, eventually, make some very big lifestyle and investment decisions. Like the single largest online generated sale to date on Realestock.com- a $5mm estate. And the inquires and conversations in our exclusive community reach upwards of $18 million.
I'd love to have feedback on this line of thought and some ideas of tools any of you searchers on Realestock would like to see. I'll make sure to take it very seriously, and take it to our programmers and design team.