Social Media Age Wars
If you were on LinkedIn or Google News Friday afternoon, you probably ran across Inc.'s most in-shared story of the day, 11 Reasons A 23 Year Old Shouldn't Run Your Social Media. The author admits she's not out to target 23 years olds specifically, and I agree that no one should ever choose a young person to manage their social media "just because." Even though I'm 24, I can think of loads of reasons why my college classmates would make outstanding social media managers. Here are 11 reasons we respectfully disagree with author Hollis Thomases.
1. They're Not Mature Enough
It's argued that millennials aren't as adult as prior generations. Actually, we just tend to prioritize things a little differently. Finding meaningful work matters more to millennials than wages. Hiring an employee who enjoys their work and can find meaning is sure to be a productive choice.
2. They May Be Focused On Their Own Social Media Activity
So what? No one wants a slug of an employee, but personal social media on the clock might not be a terrible idea. Millennials are social and checking their Twitter every few hours might help their productivity more than hurt. Plus, don't underestimate the value of a millennial's personal network. If I run into a tech-related question during the day that Google can't answer, I start messaging my friends on Facebook who majored in Computer Science. I usually receive an answer within seconds. Problem solved.
3. They Might Not Have the Same Ettiquette - Or Experience
Funny, most of the stories I hear about social media snafus involve really smart people well out of their 20s. Remember the Google Engineer who accidentally posted an angry tirade publically? Or when Kenneth Cole decided to jump into Twitter discussion of the Cairo riots and promote his spring clothing line? Neither of them were even close to 23. Also, why do you think companies need a social media policy? You know who trusts their employees to self moderate? IBM. I don't see them suffering because of it.
4. You Can't Control Their Friends
This is true, but hiring an applicant of any age includes a slight risk that they'll be connected with some losers. Actually, 72% of millennials discover brands through their friends. Hiring someone with an active personal network will probably help more than hurt. 63% of consumers worldwide are under 40.
5. No Class Can Replace On-The-Job Training
It's a fact that social media management involves branding, responding to crises, public relations and customer service. Fortunately, millennials are super at teamwork. More importantly, 80% of millennials want regular feedback from their employers and 75% want a mentor. No class or on-the-job training can replace a great attitude and ability to respond to feedback.
6. They May Not Understand Your Business
It's absolutely true that a 23 year old applicant might not get the nuances of your industry. But a 40 year old, seasoned marketer might not, either. When it comes to hiring a social media manager, finding someone with industry-relevant experience is the equivelant of striking gold.
7. Communication Skills Are Critical
You're right. Another article that made the rounds this past week was written by iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens, about how he tests every one of his applicants on their writing skills. I couldn't effectively pinpoint his age because he's pretty good with social media security settings, but I'm confident he's also a millennial. This is actually a point I actually can't argue with.
8. Humor is Tricky Business
Thomases seems skeptical that new grads can understand boundaries and appropriate content when it comes to humor. Writing persona-appropriate content is never easy, and I'll probably still struggle a bit in two decades. Most importantly, a millennial wants to know boundaries. Millennials have been shown to be feedback-hungry employees. 65% of millennials put personal development as the highest priority work. If you boss us around a little bit about boundaries, we'll thrive.
9. Social Media Savvy is Not the Same as Technical Savvy.
Right again. Social media manage isn't just about knowing how to post an image, it requires the ability to hack analytics, tools and production requirements. Employers need someone who can multitask like crazy. You know who are really awesome multitaskers? Millennials. We've been shown to switch attention between electronic devices up to 27 times per hour, or 38% more than someone from Generation X.
10. Social Media Management Can Become Crisis Management
Wait, wasn't this already covered under reason #5? Well, 66% of mobile subscribers between the ages of 25 and 34 own smartphones. Only 1/3 of the total US adult population has a smartphone. Crises don't just occur during workhours, and it looks like a millennial might be twice as likely to be plugged in and ready to respond off the clock.
11. You Need to Grab the Keys
Thomases warns employers to make sure they aren't left in the cold without access to social media accounts. It's good advice, but I'm not sure I see how millennials run a high risk of hogging passwords. Actually, don't most millennials already have a Twitter and Facebook connected to their personal email?
Do You Agree That Many Millennials Can't Effectively Manage Social Media?
Image credit: stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net