Digital Mum or Google Granny?

It didn’t get off to a promising start. When I casually mentioned over the tea table that I was thinking of applying for the Digital Mums online training course, my 16-year-old daughter scoffed: “But they want someone who’ll be a Digital Mum — not a Digital Granny!”

To my knowledge, neither she nor her younger sibling have any children to make me a grandmother so clearly she wasn’t being pedantic about the terminology. Then when my husband clumsily suggested that I should “get myself a bit more computer savvy” before I apply, I smiled sweetly and… got straight on with filling in the application form.

I’d like to think that my dear family were employing a bit of reverse psychology — getting someone to do something by telling them the opposite of what is desired. But at that point I didn’t need to be persuaded; I’d already decided.

In my 50th year, I had found myself freshly and unexpectedly redundant from my traditional communications manager’s job. Information I had read about Digital Mums in a magazine had resonated with me. I loved their ethos of championing women’s careers and a work-life blend. For me, the need to have the right mix had increased as my two children — now 12 and 17 — got older and they were no longer ‘little packages’ content to be dropped off at nursery and after-school clubs. Now with their own interests and (strong) viewpoints, parenting is more demanding and often requires greater flexibility.

Over the years, I had tried it all: full-time, part-time, job-share and latterly, a 4-day working week including some working at home when I needed to. But now all that was gone. Finding a new (part-time) job felt scary. And difficult. Turns out even companies that say they offer job-share actually don’t want you to mention those words when you apply for a job. And compulsory redundancy shakes your confidence to the core. But I certainly wasn’t ready to treat it as early retirement. Granny I was not.

Six months on, and having just submitted my final assignment, I thought I’d try some reverse psychology of my own by sharing my top reasons for not doing the course.

So, thinking of enrolling for Digital Mums’ Strategic Social Media Manager programme? Don’t even consider it if…

You are already digitally savvy (and have nothing new to learn)

Despite what my family liked to think, I did have some experience of social media in a business context. I’d helped launch its use at the housing association where I’d worked. Trouble was, I lacked confidence so I was happy to leave most of the activity — and kudos — to my colleagues, who good-naturedly called my side of the office ‘Paper Comms’.

But good though they were, being self-taught is no match for learning #SocialDoneRight. The brilliant live learning model gives you hours of teaching that you put straight into practise with a live campaign for a real client. It means you learn fast, it sticks and you quickly know how to ‘test, measure, reflect, refine and report.’ I was talking to a friend the other day about her social channels and I felt like I was having an out of body experience listening to myself: I couldn’t quite believe it was me talking and how much good stuff I actually knew!

You’re a perfectionist

If you always have to get a good night’s sleep, beautifully cooked meals on the table and a sparklingly clean home, forget it. There is simply not enough time. Training videos need to be watched, notes made, assignments written, calls had, posts scheduled… and family relationships maintained. Anything else will need to fall by the wayside. And you’ll be happy for it to because you’ll want to commit fully to the course and to do the best you can you for yourself and your client.

You can’t get excited by the little things in life

The course gets you totally engrossed in the social media channels of your client — creating the user personas of the audience you’re trying to reach, identifying created and curated content to share, devising a competition and advertising to try… The learning, and ‘doing’, is sometimes hard and frustrating. But the rewards are great. Lovely little things like — well, a like. Or a retweet; a share or a reply from a key influencer… and the little things build up to give you not only a thrill but some great data for your performance indicators.

You’re not feeling very sociable

Might sound obvious, but if you don’t care to have a social and sharing outlook then both social media and this course won’t be for you. And if you have enough mates to support you in your working life already, then walk on by. Because one of the best things is the support of the Digital Mums community and especially of your fellow trainees. In my 27 years of working life, I have not come across such a clever, generous, witty and hard-working ‘hangout’ of women. Only my maternity ward came close.

You don’t give a hoot about discovering a new business sector

You get teamed with a small business as your client throughout your training. There’s some thoughtful matching of experience and interests but inevitably it won’t be exactly what you expected — and that’s the benefit. It pushes you outside of your comfort zone — which for me was from social housing to event planning for music festivals and large events, courtesy of my fantastic client The Event Tutor. How perfect for me that my campaign ran in the summer during the height of inspiring festival season! Even now it’s over, I find myself on high alert for news of the latest festival features or next sustainable events convention.

You have nothing to prove to yourself

I had good vibes about the course from just the application form. It forced me to be honest about myself and what I wanted. The course has been a reflection of that too. From it you will gain an opportunity to re-boot your career, new skills, a confidence boost, a sense of community and a belief in yourself.

But of course if you don’t want any of that… don’t do it.