Many companies have staffed their social media teams with Millennials, believing that members of younger generations who have grown up with social media platforms are in many cases better qualified to manage its use.
But is this a bad idea?
In a PR Week guest post, William Ward, director of education strategy at Hootsuite, suggests that Millennials “aren’t the social gurus you think they are.” They often suffer from “social ADD,” “whimsically jump[ing] from Twitter to Instagram and then onto Snapchat.”
They can struggle to understand brand voice and craft integrated campaigns that work well across social platforms. And they’re prone to oversharing, or sharing inappropriately.
None of this, Ward says, means that Millennials aren’t the “social generation.”
But companies shouldn’t assume that their seemingly innate abilities to use social platforms and identify meaningful social trends will translate to effective use of social media for marketing purposes.
Social media marketing isn’t what you think it is
Ward’s observations are particularly interesting in light of an AdAge op-ed piece by Mike Proulx, director of digital strategy at ad agency Hill Holliday, in which he declares, “social media marketing is now advertising.”
[Social media is] largely a media planning and buying exercise – emphasizing viewed impressions. Brands must pay if they really want their message to be seen. It’s the opposite of connecting or listening – it’s once again broadcasting.
“Marketing on social networks today requires a shift in mindset – one that considers social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, as any other ad-supported media properties,” he advises.
Measurement is important and brands shouldn’t “get caught up in posting (and promoting) innocuous content because it’s earning what feels like a lot of social currency. The art of creativity and the science of brand strategy shouldn’t be tossed out the window just because you can now instantly publish.”
If Proulx is right, and social media is just an advertising channel, the notion that youth is important to social media success is worth questioning even further.
After all, if social functions similarly to other ad channels, the application of brand strategy is crucial.
Younger employees, however, are more likely to lack brand strategy experience, leaving them unable to connect the dots and conceptualize how the social campaigns they create fit in to the bigger picture.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean that there’s no room for youth in social.
To the contrary. Identifying worthwhile new platforms and crafting content that is likely to resonate is of real importance and these are two areas where Millennials are able to greatly contribute.
But it’s important to differentiate between the tactical and the strategic and consider that younger staffers may be better suited to the former and not the latter.