Last year, I stumbled across an Inc. magazine article by Hollis Thomases titled “11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media.”
The title caught my eye because:
1. I was 23 at the time, and
2. I (along with my young-20s colleagues) run my PR agency’s social media accounts and advise a lot of our clients on social media strategies.
Despite her “pardon me” opening sentence, the general point Thomases is trying to make is that you shouldn’t trust the keys of your social media kingdom to a younger employee because they don’t understand how to use it properly. This sounds similar to a lot of not-so-subtle, millennial-bashing articles in the news as of late.
I’m not saying that the situations Thomases presents in her article aren’t valid; the problems she speaks to are very real and could happen. However, I think her biggest misstep is believing these problems stem from hiring a recent grad. She underestimates the value of millennials in the workplace, especially when it comes to social media.
Here are five reasons a 23-year-old should run your social media:
1. Millennials are creative.
Millennials are used to the idea of standing out and being “special.” It’s something ingrained into our brains from the time we take our first steps.
The value (or liability) of this type of perceived entitlement warrants another discussion, but this cradle-to-college encouragement has succeeded in making us creative thinkers who are always seeking the “newer” and “better.”
We’re eager to learn, collaborate, and share ideas with you. This makes us perfectly situated for the ever-evolving world of social media.
2. Social media isn’t new to us.
We’ve not only grown up with social media, it’s our primary form of communication — not some mystic, foreign “other” that we need to figure out.
Especially in terms of business and branding, we’ve been inundated with messages from brands looking to communicate specifically with us for the majority of our lives. We’re excellent at sniffing out authenticity and determining when a brand comes off as fake or impersonal. This makes us a perfect candidate to gauge proper tone and ultimate effectiveness when creating content for your business.
3. We are trustworthy, despite what Thomases might think.
One of the most outrageous arguments made by Thomases is that your 23-year-old social media manager will “lock you out” of your own social media accounts. This argument has nothing to do with age; if you can’t trust an employee to be honest and straightforward, why did you hire them in the first place? It doesn’t matter if they are 23 or 53—without your trust, they have no place on your team.
4. Our age doesn’t necessarily reflect our maturity.
Thomases argues that millennials, as a whole, are immature and can’t handle responsibility. The old adage, “Age is just a number,” rings true here — there are many shades of maturity and professionalism at 23, 33, 43, and beyond. Just because someone is 23 doesn’t mean they act 13; likewise, a 43-year-old could be more immature than a recent grad.
It all depends on the person and on his or her experience and skill level. Most millennials I know, especially those who work in communications, are polished and professional in the workplace, just like any other employee.
5. Our individualism is good for your business.
As Thomases points out, millennials are individualistic and concerned with their own lives — a statement that is largely true. But this doesn’t automatically translate to our being “bad” employees; I would argue that it makes us better.
For many of us, self-worth and success have always been intertwined, which is why we tried so hard to succeed in school, sports, clubs, and especially work. We are focused on our successes as an individual, but that personal success comes, in part, from being successful for our employers. We work hard for you, because we value the process of honing and perfecting our own talents and skills.
As a then-23-year-old social media manger, I disagree with you, Ms. Thomases. And I assume that many of my mature, successful, millennial colleagues do, too.
Lauren Rothering is a PR and social media coordinator for C. Blohm &Associates, a PR agency in Madison, Wisc. She writes for her agency’s blog, Visibility Matters, and MadGirl PR, where this story first appeared. Follow her on twitter @LRothering.