Posts tagged ‘newbie’

Social Media Marketing: Are GenYs Lagging Behind?

Do GenYs really ‘get it’ when it comes to Social Media Marketing?

Recently, I got into twittervation with @xylem about this exact topic. A post on his blog stated:

“Millennials don’t translate their familiarity with these tools to their advantage at work. They don’t use it to differentiate themselves from the crowd and competitive differentiator in the office.  Not the way they should be, anyway.”

And so the question is posed to me:

Why are GenYs not actively taking hold of the marketing potential of social media?

Or, taking that one step further:

Why aren’t GenYs leading the Social Media Revolution?

These are big questions to which I gave some serious thought. My generation, ‘Millennials’ are almost universally obsessed with social media. We love facebook, myspace, youtube, and flicker with a passion. We were brought up on AIM and have never known a time where information and connections have been anything less than instantaneous. We’re known as overachievers, super-learners, and technology maniacs. And so it seems only natural that, entering the work force, we would be leading the charge to incorporate these technologies into business. Though according to some, we’re lagging behind.

If this is true, I would say that our primary weakness is that we fail to see the potential professional gain of social media. True, we’re introduced to new platforms well before most of the free world, and our ‘natural inclination’ towards all things technological makes us near instant pros. But to us it’s all about fun. For over a decade we’ve been using social media to connect with friends, share pictures, and kill time. In fact, we’re so trained to view these online communities as a world away from work that many of us don’t tailor our behavior to the potential audience that might happen upon it (i.e. most millennials keep inappropriate pictures, applications, and wall posts on their profiles during the job hunt).

So why can’t we see the professional potential?

In my mind, the main reason that we’re blind to the competitive advantage of social media is because we were taught to keep online worlds separate from work and school by our parents (the Boomers) and our older siblings and teachers (GenXs). Long before we knew that facebook, myspace, and twitter were called ‘social media’ these fun web 2.0 tools were banned, limited, and monitored by our successors. There were rules and regulations at home, school, and work prohibiting their use. Years upon years of being told that these sites were just for play and we got the message – these sites are toys, not tools.

Fast forward a decade and suddenly the Boomers and GenXs are starting to get it. Our parents are friending us on Facebook and our bosses are asking us to find clients using Twitter. But at the same time, many sites remain restricted. We are encouraged to use some but told to stay away by others and as interns and coordinators in our first years on the job we’re struggling to manage the mixed signals. What’s allowed and what’s forbidden? How to separate personal from professional? Where do we draw the line between keeping track of friends and networking to build professional relationships? And so, it’s probably true that not all of us are getting it.

But please, be patient. (Remember that the oldest millennials are only 26!)

Keep in mind that we’re still young and we have a lot to learn. While we may have an inherent talent for this budding field, there’s a lot we’re still trying to figure out. So @xylem I’m asking you and all GenXs, to reach out to us. It’s great that you recognize that we just may have a few things we can teach you, but remember that, we’re still new at marketing, PR and at being professionals. Most of us simply don’t have the experience to put all the pieces together and see the big picture.

And of course, there are some that do. There are few rockstars and a handful of rockstars-in-training. But on the whole, most GenYs are still just trying to get their acts together. Realizing the tools we have on hand might actually serve a purpose (and that we can use them to get ahead!) will come, but it will take time and probably a mentor or two.

Rather than separate the generations based on what we have to offer, shouldn’t we be focusing on how we can work together to push the industry forward? The rules of PR and marketing have changed. Maybe it’s time for the traditional office structure to change too. And so, I call on Boomers and GenXs to bring us on board. Start by explaining the goals and telling us what you think we can add. Then let us run. Not everyone will take the cue, but the ones who do won’t look back.

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October 24, 2008 at 4:39 pm 5 comments

the privileged generation

what happens when the gen Y is told to sit down, shut up, and listen?

(confession: this is a repost)  So my old blog, which will remain nameless, had a few posts that I’d like to keep in my catalog of thoughts. This one, from Sept 07, was written when I was working as a PR Assistant to a somewhat uninvested boss. I dedicate it to the thousands of PR noobs struggling through another week of database maintenance and basic industry research.

the privileged generation

Out for coffee with a friend earlier this week, the subject of the new generation of workers came up. As we chatted about our post-college job search, grueling interviews, and the eventual offers, she pointed out that part of the difficulty that of finding a job stems from the fact that we are proud members of the “privileged generation.” Now I’ve heard this argument before: the 20-somethings of today’s world want it all and want it now. We grew up being told that we could do anything we wanted — encouraged more than criticized, we believe that with enough effort and a good education, we will rise to the top.

What our parents, teachers, mentors, and advisers forgot to tell us is that there’s quite a large gap between the time we’re told this and the time it proves true. They failed to mention all menial tasks and annoying grunt work we’d have to put up before we arrive. Their constant encouragement didn’t include speeches about ‘paying your dues’ and so, my generation, “the privileged generation’ has had to learn the hard way that that if we want to be president, CEO, or own our own business, we’re going to have to put in some hard time of answering phones, taking messages, and opening mail.

But daddy, I want it now!”

And so we learn the lesson the hard way. By not being handed the perfect job the day we’re handed our diplomas or by spending hours upon hours on work that makes our insides scream “I spent 4 years in college for this?!”

(so here’s the moral) You may be smart and you may have great ambition, but a huge part of early years on the job is about handling the small details of the big picture. Sending out a press release? Guess who gets to manage the database of publications and reporters? Preparing a mass mailing? Guess who’ll be collecting quotes from mail houses and list rental companies? Phone calls, filing, and organizing details. These are the responsibilities of an entry-level marketing/PR professional, and it’s these tasks that this ‘privileged generation’ has such a hard time swallowing. Filling this position, however, is as necessary a part of climbing the career ladder as getting a degree.

I’ll grant you that much of this is easier said than done. It takes patience and a few self-reminders to smile though the tasks, work diligently, and stay focused on the next step. As my friend mentioned during our coffee outing, it’s in our nature to be impatient and want it all now. And perhaps, this driven, ambitious attitude will be a major driving force in our future success — determining what story we will tell when the power is (eventually) left in our hands. But first we need to get there. And right now, getting there means answering a few more phone calls and taking a few more messages.

Take a look at the other perspective: Teaching in an Age of Entitlement (From Teaching PR by Karen Miller Russell, 8/13/08).

October 9, 2008 at 3:58 pm 2 comments


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