Here’s the 21st-century business version:
Give the job to Mikey, he understands this stuff!
“Mikey” in this scenario is a 24-year-old recent college grad who is looking for his or her first job in marketing (or probably anything because of the crappy job market). “This stuff” is the entirety of your company’s social media marketing and branding work. Strategy, tactics, execution… the whole shebang. Seriously, take the two boys from this commercial, replace them with two middle-aged professionals, fill the bowl with a full serving of social media, and the conversation is exactly the same.
It’s an understandable response considering how quickly social media has evolved and how much influence it is exerting on business. Trying to keep up with your job is hard enough… and now you have to figure out how to use LinkedIn, Twitter, et cetera on both a functional and strategic level. It’s overwhelming! And it’s compounded by the implicit belief that technology is a generational tool; and that if you have any grey hairs at all, you won’t be able to understand it anyways.
It’s a lot easier to say, “Of course the next generation understands this stuff! They grew up on the Facebook! Let’s have them do it.”
Hold on a minute; slow your roll. You’re probably making a huge mistake.
It’s true that the next generation grew up with social media and possess a more comfortable, if not more intuitive, grasp of it. Technology has been an ever-present part of their lives, not something tacked on afterwards (I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was 25, but these days it’s not uncommon for preteens to have their own iPhones.)
Also true: they lack the business experience you have. They can navigate new tech platforms, but they don’t know the nuances and risks of business communication. The subtle messaging required to turn a meeting into a sale. That’s an entirely different skill than knowing how to post a status update on Facebook.
You wouldn’t let someone call your top customers just because they know how to use a phone, would you?
Think about this before you completely delegate social media to your greenest employee and then wipe your hands clean like a blackjack dealer in Vegas. And fret not: all is not lost.
You have an amazing opportunity to partner with the next generation of savvy social media superstars. Bring them into your organization, work with them to develop the experience they need, and let them show you how to integrate social media into your business life. Instead of delegating responsibility for internal and external communications, share it with them until everyone understands what it will take to succeed – both tactically and strategically.
This will take a little more perseverance and effort in the short run, but it’s worth it. Organizations that invest in bringing all of their employees up to speed on social media, while at the same time educating the new generation on communication strategy, are the ones who win… and win big. I hope that you’ll be in that group!