1 Good Reason – Social Marketing

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Are Young People Better at Social Media

November 1st, 2010 · 13 Comments

Old people are cynics.  They’re grumpy, crotchety.

Shit My Dad Says

Young people are quick, nimble, stronger.

Old people are experienced.  Young people are open to new ideas.

In August I was named to the 40 Over 40 in Social Media list.  Quite frankly I don’t think that I rank up there with the likes of Chris Brogan and Charlene Li, but I’m very flattered to be included.

Social Media is dominated by young people.  Mark Zuckerberg Facebook’s founder is the world’s youngest billionaire.

Many companies choose to use young people, often college interns to run their social media efforts.  The thinking often flows along the lines of; young people have experience with social media, they’ve been using it all of their lives, they know the etiquette.

However, the errors that young people make are often related to failing to see the alternatives, or ways that people can twist and misuse your ideas.  When I look at Facebook’s missteps lately, they are of this nature.

I think that if we look into the background of many of Jerimiah Owyang’s list of Social Media Falures we would find many who failed to consider the consequences.   In reality the cynicism, and skepticism that often comes with age is a valuable business defense system that will protect your company from forseeable missteps.

So I’ll take my subscription to AARP Magazine and my 30 years of business experience and put that against any fresh college graduate in guiding your social media efforts.  It’s not the technology, or the tools, it is how you deal with people and represent your company.  And in that arena, age and wisdom are very valuable.

If someone will please hand me my walker I’ll climb down off of this soap box.

Give me 1 Good Reason why you should trust your company’s reputation to a fresh college grad.

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Tags: Marketing Monday · Reasons For Net Marketing

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kate Reuvers // Nov 1, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Congrats on making the 40 over 40 list! I don’t think I’ll ever understand the mindset behind companies that use interns to look after the Social Media efforts. IMO you need someone that knows and loves the company and, additionally, is willing to go that extra mile. Particularly because social media is “always on”. Additionally you need someone who is going to be accountable for what they do – how accountable can you hold an unpaid intern? Although interns may bring a level of freshness, it’s very rare that you’ll find one that will bring what the campaign will actually need – experience, business sense, accountability, etc.

  • 2 Tweets that mention Are Young People Better at Social Media -- Topsy.com // Nov 1, 2010 at 9:26 am

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Chris Kieff, Chase Adams. Chase Adams said: RT @ckieff: Are Young People Better at Social Media http://fb.me/KsX8NuLH // Depends on the motive. [...]

  • 3 Tweets that mention Are Young People Better at Social Media -- Topsy.com // Nov 1, 2010 at 9:54 am

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Chris Kieff, Nancy Passow. Nancy Passow said: RT @ckieff: Are Young People Better at Social Media http://goo.gl/fb/76fdu New via @ckieff [...]

  • 4 Chris Kieff // Nov 1, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Great point on accountability and pay! And thanks for 40 over 40 thing. I still don’t think of my self as over anything. Lol

  • 5 Suzi Crai // Nov 1, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    I think the conversation of who is most capable to run social media in an organization needs to start with a different question altogether. The fact that the “age” discussion is still prevalent tells me that, generally, social media is not viewed as a legit component of an organization’s resources.

    Can you imagine an HR Director talking about how 50-somethings make better CEOs? Or, how 20-somethings are better on the sales team? They’d go to jail.

    I don’t care how old or young you are, this is an HR question. Do you have the skills and juice to be the public face of an organization? Then, you should be personally front and center in social media. Are you really good at research and have an ear for trends? Then you get to work behind the scenes. Are you great behind the camera? Then you get the job of memorializing all events and happenings for the organization so the SM team has tons of great things to share.

    For me, the most productive discussion is one that starts with: who do we need to support our social media efforts? Then, let HR go and get ‘em.

  • 6 Chris Kieff // Nov 1, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    You make great points. I agree with everything you say. The only problem is too many people see social media as a young person’s game today. Perhaps it’s because it hasn’t matured as a medium, or perhaps it’s because people don’t understand it at all. But I see many large organizations using the wrong people to make decisions that in retrospect are fairly simple. And with the current economic climate causing companies to let older more costly people go, I see the problem getting worse not better.

  • 7 It’s the Social Media Age – Now How Old Should That Be? | freedmarketer.com // Nov 1, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    [...] a comment on the blog of Chris Kieff, a friend and fellow NJ social media junkie, when he asked “Are Young People Better at Social Media?”, but I quickly realized that I had enough to say for a whole entry of my own.  Chris points [...]

  • 8 Kevin Haughwout // Nov 1, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Chris, I started to say a few words about this, then I realized that I actually had a few hundred to say.


  • 9 Kirk Varner // Nov 1, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Pardon this cynically tinged reality check, but isn’t a major aspect to this question the issue of what is social media really worth to a company right now?

    We get that social media is the “latest big thing” for many corporate boardrooms to ponder, but equating the value of social media to a company’s brand is often still a tough sell–particularly when the value of a brand itself is still not easily quantified for too many company leaders.

    So part of the question has got to be that its often easier (and yes, cheaper) to hire a younger employee to manage social media and say it is because “they get it more” rather than admit that quite likely “they will do it for less.”

    Of course, much like the value of being online with a website wasn’t obvious at first–as soon as social media does equate to the bottom line in an easily valued way, there will be the immediate need for some well compensated, middle-aged senior VPs to oversee this “important new and growing facet of our business.”

    At least as a guy of 53, that’s what I’m hoping for.

  • 10 Chris Kieff // Nov 1, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    That’s a great point, “they’ll do it for less” when the company really doesn’t value the social media or know how to value it. And this 52 year old agrees with you.

  • 11 Ellen // Nov 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    I say stay on your soapbox because that is exactly where I stand marketing my soap business on Social Media platforms. Up with old people using the tools made by the youngsters. I think there is great value in the old and young coming together and complimenting one another’s skills and short comings. There are great ideas in the minds of the young but life lessons are only learned by living longer. Maturity comes with age but you don’t have to be old!

  • 12 PhilFeed › Fresh From My Twitter / Favorites from PhilBaumann today // Nov 5, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    [...] lizscherer: Holla! RT @ckieff: Where do you come down on the age issue in Social Media? http://bit.ly/cANU0M gfry: If you ever had doubt the iPad is an important invention, have a look at [...]

  • 13 Daniel Phillips // Jun 8, 2011 at 11:00 am

    I agree, however here is your reason “Give me 1 Good Reason why you should trust your company’s reputation to a fresh college grad.” :

    Because brands choose to undervalue this position. Do not expect to recieve non “fresh” college graduates at the entry level salary being paid. It sickens me to hear these kind of comments sometimes lol, its such a self perpetuating system..

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