Social Media: Young person problem, or management problem?

by on August 17, 2012 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Cafe
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“11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media,” read the headline of a recent article on Inc.com. It suggested that social media is a hugely important, very public piece of your organization, and shouldn’t be entrusted to an inexperienced twenty-something fresh out of college.

The story makes a valid point. An immature or impetuous social media manager misusing your profiles can create endless headaches. But go deeper: If you’re at risk of inexperienced employees damaging your social media reputation, you don’t have a twenty-something problem. You have a management problem.

Social media disasters don’t happen in a vacuum. For every social media operative sending an ill-advised tweet, there’s a manager or supervisor who, directly or indirectly, allowed it to happen. No, we don’t mean that managers should set up a “Tweet Committee” to analyze every single message before it’s sent. That would destroy the immediacy that is such an appealing part of social media. But managers do need to be involved. Here’s a parallel that HR professionals will understand: Just as you wouldn’t let an inexperienced employee write a policy manual without supervision, you shouldn’t hand social media off to a young “expert” without somebody more senior checking regularly that it’s being used properly.

And of course, many of these concerns should be handled when your would-be social media manager is hired. Obviously, take a good look at the applicant’s resume. Ask what experience they’ve had running profiles for businesses. Similarly, if you’re worried that someone’s sense of humor online might not be compatible with that of your audience, try to find out during the interview what they think is funny. Odds are if a job candidate is going to show poor judgment when handling your social media profiles, that poor judgment will manifest itself well before you put them in charge.

To sum up: Yes, a young, immature person can drive your Twitter account into a ditch if you hand them the keys and let them do whatever they want. But whose fault is it, then? Theirs, for being heedless, or yours, for being too hands-off?

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