Over the past decade, social media has been one of the biggest revolutions in the field of public relations, for companies and communications professionals alike. But, as with all revolutions, questions arise as to who has been left behind. For millennials, the predominant logic might be that anyone outside of their 20’s doesn’t “get it”. How true is this statement? We asked some of our GLOBALHealthPR partners that same question.
“Historically (well, for the past 11 years if we consider Facebook the trailblazer) social media has been a ‘young person’s game.’
Terms like ‘ageism’ are regularly tossed around, but is there a point at which one becomes ‘too old’ to correctly utilise social media? Further, is it fair to assume that the millennial generation should be favored over their predecessors when it comes to social media management in public relations programming?
Australian advertising creative Simon Veskner explored the stance of social media critics in a recent article published in Mumbrella. “Social media is the first communications discipline in history for which ageism is justified. Do you see a lot of over 40’s on Snapchat? You don’t,” cited Veskner.
Age-appropriate management of corporate social media is indeed, a hotly contested topic.
In a controversial piece published in NextGen Journal, University of Iowa student, Cathryn Sloane, argued anyone working as a social media manager should be aged 25 or younger, for they “have grown up with social media integrated into their everyday lives and thus have learned to use social media socially before professionally.”
Is there a genuinely compelling argument that the “Teenies” and Gen Y who have grown up with social media defining their day-to-day lives, can actually better understand the channels than those who are older?
Whatever side of the ‘age fence’ you sit on, it is clear that age affects ones perception’s on the importance of social media’s role in our lives and in our jobs.”
-Mark Henderson, VIVA! Communications
“Social networks can be used and managed properly by people of all ages. However, Gen Y, unlike the rest of the digital-native generation, creates its own vision of the world through social media. It is where they spread their ideas; they voice their opinions, and even build their real-world relationships based on their online social presence.”
– Luciana Acuña Elías, Paradigma PEL Comunicación
For communications professionals, those who manage clients’ social network presence, especially with more mature industry professionals, must also inject this “insider” mindset into their programs.
In Canada, energiPR CEO Carol Levine, a seasoned healthcare public relations executive, had another perspective.
“Different generations bring different strengths to any situation or technology. Social media is no different. Where younger people are more accustomed to have a digital “through the screen” conversation, older social media users also realise that there is a value to remembering that behind each screen is a person, and the merit and qualities of face-to-face interaction. In other words, what is said on social media has a power and resonance beyond the screen, words don’t always transmit the correct emotion, and older generations have a different emotional intelligence that perhaps harnesses that better, or at least differently. Older users may also be more mindful of the fact that what is online lives forever … so be careful what you post.
Social media is all about immediacy and speed, reacting literally ‘in the moment.’ Younger users are more adept at doing this, given the speed with which technology changes, and their eagerness to adopt it and adapt to it. When your first “toy” was a smart phone, rather than a Fisher Price vacuum cleaner, you interact differently with the world from your earliest days.
However, there is more to management than understanding the nuts and bolts of a technology. Of course, some older people are lousy managers, and the same is true of younger managers. And not all younger people “get” technology, either. Perhaps we would all be better served if we didn’t jump to a ‘one size fits all’ conclusion regarding technology and age.”
-Carol Levine, energiPR
What do you think?