11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Should Run Your Social Media

In Response to 11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media

A recent article written by Hollis Thomases, a self-proclaimed digital marketing expert, was an interesting take on recent grads and their ability to execute social media strategy. We feel quite differently about the value of our work.

At Design4Change, we are a group of talented alumni working with the best and brightest marketing students at Mount Royal University. We sometimes get pigeonholed as “those young people,” and would like the opportunity to wade in on the topic.

Hollis gave 11 reasons why a 23 year old shouldn’t run your social media. We have thoughts! And more importantly, our input on who should be running these platforms.

#1. They’re not mature enough – Hollis claims 23 year olds “tend to feel unstable and self-focused and would rather explore who they are and how they can transform their lives. This is great for them but not so great for you, their employer…” At Design4Change we think this is fantastic news for you. You want employees who are growing, learning, and exploring, because they understand and influence the ever-changing digital environment. What you don’t want is someone change adverse, who doesn’t follow the latest online developments and best practices. Or, how about instead of acting like a student, hire a student.

#2.  They may be focused on their own social-media activity – We have news for you, and as a digital expert you should know, 23 year olds are not the only ones who participate in social media. “Will you need to be monitoring the person?” I don’t know… do you feel the need to monitor all your employees? Perhaps the issue isn’t hiring young people, it’s hiring the right people.

#3. They may not have the same etiquette–or experience – The social media platform(s) you choose become an essential component of the brand face of your company. This responsibility should not happen in a vacuum, be handed over without alignment to key marketing strategy or without the leadership and guidance of the marketing team. What are the outcomes you are trying to achieve? What exactly is the personality of your brand that you want to convey online? Do you have a brand personality? If not, you should probably give us a call. The social media coordinator, whatever age, should have these guidelines to work from.

Hollis said there should be a social media policy in place like Intel’s for example, and we agree. NB: This policy should cover everyone at your company, not just the individual running your social media. Your employees are your best or worst brand advocates. Even if your company isn’t utilizing social media, (–we’re not wading into the valence on that discussion in this post), you are being talked about online. Take the step to write out guidelines on how your brand should be represented and the repercussions of failing to adhere to them.

#4.  You can’t control their friends. If you believe the individual you have employed to communicate with your stakeholders is part of a community that will trash your brand online – you are a masochist. Hire the right people.

#5.  No class can replace on-the-job training. “Social media for business is really so many things wrapped into one: marketing, customer service, public relations, crisis management, branding.”  We whole-heartedly agree. Great universities offer many classes, a lot of them now engaging clients in the community on real marketing projects. And, these classes go deeper than ‘throwing the switch’ on Facebook and Twitter, exploring topics like the applied psychology of social media, building brand value by using social media, and integrating social media initiatives with face-to-face marketing strategy – social media experience design for your brand. Metrics and accountability are built into what we learn. If this isn’t a part of your practice, call us.

#6.  They may not understand your business. Please refer to #5.

“No new hire will be able to absorb these issues overnight, of course–but a brand new graduate will have an even steeper learning curve.” If a 23-year-old new grad is the individual you have identified as the right employee for your company, we’re sure they have the intellectual capacity to absorb your product nuances, competitive advantage, and customer expectations. They will be able to adjust as well as the new hire ten years their senior, and may arguably be better suited to learning as they are fresh from a learning environment.

Please note: We don’t believe you need to “cajole customers into working a bit more with you.” Social media is about relationship-building and value creation not cajoling. Your audience will see right through you if your only goal is to sell.

#7.  Communication skills are critical. Design4Change agrees, “communication is critical to solid social-media execution.” While we disagree that, “Many young people have not yet learned the “art” of communicating,” and may not, “know how to read between the lines, rather than [take] things too literally.” The words “young” and “incompetent” are separated in the dictionary by several letters/pages last time we checked. Hire the right people.

#8.  Humor is tricky business. ??? Humor may not even be a part of a given company’s brand or campaign initiative. Please see aforementioned references to “outcomes expected” “alignment with marketing strategy” “social media experience design”.

#9.  Social-media savvy is not the same as technical savvy. “Successful social-media management involves production requirements, tools, analytics, and other aspects of work.” Yes it does. In our agency, it’s an asset to wear a few hats. Most of us do a combination of client relationship management, social media, copywriting, editing, creative, strategy, and design – classic and online. Also, our experience is that most employers know the difference between a marketing and an IT grad.

# 10. Social-media management can become crisis management. Absolutely, please see aforementioned references to “hiring the right people,” “leadership,” “guidance,” and “training.” An employee running social media should be integrated with their marketing peers, including PR professionals. If this individual is also the PR team, they should have the support and availability of the CEO.  We believe there’s nothing better that real-time engagement for positive brand-building opportunities too, especially if you’ve done a great job building your online community.

# 11. You need to keep the keys. We also feel strongly that you should have access to your own social media, as you appropriately would any other company asset. ‘Keep the keys?’ If you plan to be a strict parent with your staff, well, that’s a choice. We think the ‘best parents’ understand the absolute value of nurturing and coaching for creativity, individuality, trust, and appropriate risk.  A word of warning… If you intend to micromanage social media platforms or engineer an on-line community, you’ve missed the point. Don’t bother hiring for the position.

Thank you Hollis Thomases for the framework of a great post.

FYI- Our most celebrated social media expert at the agency is 20 years old. After careful analysis, he already has thoughts on transforming your social media approach.