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‘Kids’ are driving corporate social media

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
87 percent of those surveyed said they’re still learning how to use social media effectively – and 70 percent said they’re doing a poor job handling social media for their companies.

In the social media world, the kids are in the driver’s seat. That was one of the findings that leaped out at me from a very interesting survey of social media in the business world released by Lawrence Ragan Communications.

When looking to hire for social media jobs, 91 percent of employers said they looked for candidates with one to five years’ experience. That’s either a recognition that young “digital natives” really do excel in the social media world; a case of extreme age-based stereotyping; or a belief that social media is an unimportant area that can be farmed out to the least experienced workers. Only the first of those (if true) is a reasonable motivation.

What’s more, the kids are being turned loose to sink or swim on their own. More than 80 percent of the companies surveyed said their social media teams consist of three or fewer people.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. My agency has several young staffers handling social media for clients very capably, with relatively little oversight. But social media is a dangerous arena, with potential damage to a company’s reputation always lurking within one ill-considered click of the mouse.

Entrusting inexperienced young people with a company’s brand message and image could be a dangerous practice. But it appears to be commonplace in today’s corporate America.

Also, nobody in the social media world really seems to know what they’re doing. That’s understandable, because it’s such a new area. It’s easy to forget that Facebook and Twitter are less than 10 years old.

But 87 percent of those surveyed said they’re still learning how to use social media effectively – and 70 percent said they’re doing a poor job handling social media for their companies.

There are some other interesting nuggets in the survey for corporate leaders. Arik Hanson, one of the Twin Cities’ savviest social-media strategists, looked at the findings and asked why companies aren’t doing a better job of linking social media to measurable sales and lead-generation goals.

Bottom line: Social media is still a toddler. So was Genghis Khan, once. Hopefully, we can steer this particular toddler onto a constructive path before it grows up to take over the world.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 05/20/2013 - 08:51 am.

    Reasonable or not?

    Whether reasonable or not, I would hazard to guess that often social media is being farmed out to the inexperienced and inexpensive. While it makes little sense, many companies don’t realize yet the importance of social media. They’re just now sticking a fearful toe into the water. While the water is dangerous and probably shouldn’t be braved by the inexperienced, lots of companies are still ruled by the bottom line. Social media isn’t a toddler anymore–Facebook was founded 9 years ago; Myspace was founded 10 years ago; LinkedIn is about 10 years old, too. There are professionals out there that have more than 5 years experience. More importantly, there are professionals out there with the WISDOM appropriate for managing social media.

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