Are Millennials Too Young And Inexperienced To Handle A Brand's Social Media?

It's gotta be tough being a Millennial these days. Everyone crapping on you from left and right, claiming you're all a bunch of selfish, lazy-ass know-it-alls who refuse to fit in. Of course, that's a blatant generalization, but as with all stereotypes, there's always a tiny bit of truth within the accusations.

Some question the intelligence of upper management charging Millennials with the management of a brand or agency's social media efforts. Hootesuite Director of Education Strategy William Ward says Millennials "aren't the social gurus you think they are," have "social ADD" and "whimsically jump from Twitter to Instagram and then onto Snapchat."

Again, a blatant generalization -- but if you add to Ward's assessment the opinion of Hill Holliday Director of Digital Strategy Mike Proulx's notion that social media is now just regular marketing, then the assessment makes more sense.

Writing in an Ad Age op-ed, Proulx said: "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."

He adds: "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."

So if Proulx's notion is that social media is basically an integral form of brand marketing which entails the implementation of well thought out, deeply-researched strategies then handing that responsibility to a minimally experienced 25 year-old may not make all that much sense. Again, no one is saying Millennials are dumb. Not at all. But like any other 25 year-old from any other generation, 25 is 25 and, in general, expertise comes from experience and experience is, generally, gleaned from spending significant time on this earth. Perspective. Wisdom. 

Making the argument that GenX or Boomers are too old to understand the intricacies of social media is, however, dumb. After all, social media has been around for less than ten years and unless I'm bad at math, GenXers and Boomers have been alive and well and working on this planet for the past ten years.

Sure, one could argue that the adoption and usage of social media swings heavily to younger peoplem, but usage and implementation of a thing for the business purposes of marketing a brand are two very different things. A person doesn't have to be a heavy user of Snapchat, Meerkat or Periscope to seek out and understand their potential benefits to a brand.

Can Millennials be charged with handling a brand's social media? Sure. Can a 55-year-old? Absolutely. Age is irrelevant. On the other hand, experience is not irrelevant and can play a heavy role in the successful implementation of a brand's marketing program. And social media is marketing. So think twice before you fully hand over the marketing reins of your brand to a 25-year-old.



5 comments about "Are Millennials Too Young And Inexperienced To Handle A Brand's Social Media?".
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  1. Glenn Jewett from Services1223, April 8, 2015 at 10:16 a.m.

    As has always been, the current "gen" and I forget what designation we're using now, inevitably gets co-opted and absorbed. It happens and they're always surprised.

  2. Mike Freedman from Ultimate Medical Academy, April 8, 2015 at 11:30 a.m.

    I work with ban incredibly talented young millenial who does a great job with social media. Like the author indicates age is irrelevant but dedication, drive and experience will always matter. Down with all forms of ageism. No one knows or cares how old you are online. 

  3. Haley Doloboff from Dunhill Travel Deals, April 9, 2015 at 3:26 p.m.

    I have to disagree and point out that it is really dependent on what industry you're in and what the demographics are of your target audience. Social media is not just about push marketing, but about personifying your brand and creating an engaging, two-way conversation with your customers. If targeting millennials, then millennials are the best people to manage at least the day-to-day social media tasks and should be equal participants in the planning of the overall strategy. Millennials tend to eat, sleep and breathe these new media platforms, and whoever controls the social media campaigns needs to deeply understand the target audience and how campaigns go viral. 

    Regarding the paragraph about being 25, I don't think age determines success - just look at the founders of Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, to name a few. These "inexperienced" individuals built the empires companies and marketing/PRdepartments are so desperate to master.

  4. Glenn Jewett from Services1223, April 9, 2015 at 5:17 p.m.

    Haley and Mike... I believe the point you both missed is in paragraph five. Regardless of the "empire" built by innovative minds, the minute they accepted funding from Goldman Sachs and the other investment bankers, they now had shareholders, and the law is quite clear as to the responsibilities of any publicly held company,( from Google on down) a fiduciary responsibilty to their shareholders. So the line in the article that is the most important to absorb is that regardless of the innovators or the users, policy and the obligation to monetise supercedes the idealism of the innovation. So in fact, no matter how much lipstick you put on it... FaceBook, Google, Twitter and the rest have been transformed into more personalized, but none the less, "ad supported broadcast" media.

  5. Renee Fiscus from GateHouse Media, April 10, 2015 at 11:11 a.m.

    I'm 50 and have been in the digital industry for quite some time, it's all about keeping yourself current in the marketplace... I love what I do. In my experience, I've came across quite few 20 somethings that have no idea what branding means let alone what a mobile campaign is. Branding is Marketing 101. Social media is at the top of most SMBs however, when a 20 something is put in charge they don't seem to know where to begin becasue they don't want to put the extra effort in to learn where they're going. If your passionate about your career, you'll figure it out.

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