Social Media Madness

Dear Brand XYZ,

It is your old friend Jack here to share some common sense advice with you. With few exceptions most of you would never consider using a 20 year-old intern as your company spokesperson.  Don’t give me stories about how some 20 year-olds are brilliant, eloquent and bestowed with exceptional common sense because we are not talking about them.

We are talking about most 20 year-olds who have limited life and business experience. We are talking about people who probably aren’t seasoned enough to deal with some of the really hard questions and situations that businesses often have to face. Yet you the fine executives at Brand XYZ who won’t allow these younger people to serve as the “public” mouthpiece shoot yourself in the foot by placing them in charge of social media.

As ridiculous as it might seem, some of you haven’t figured out that Facebook, YouTube, Blogs and Twitter are all public. You haven’t figured out that you just gave the kid a microphone and license to use it. You haven’t figured out that they might have a different definition of what is appropriate and proper than you.

If you are smart you’ll make the appropriate changes very quickly or you might find yourself as the newest case study in what not to do. If you are really lucky you won’t have enraged a social media expert who is well connected and ready to unleash a 24 hour campaign of social media terror upon your company. Remember, it may not be right or fair but once the barn door is open it is really hard to get the horses back inside.

The best thing you can do is be proactive. Take steps to make sure that your social media plan is being handled by someone who has the experience and savvy to prevent you from dealing with a crisis PR situation.  Doing nothing makes as much sense as trying  to build a parachute after you have jumped out of the plane.

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46 Comments

  1. Mark Harai June 2, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Ah Jack, you worry way too much about giving the keys of your business over to a 20 year old social media rock star.

    BTW, I don’t think any wisdom worth talking about kicks in until at least your 40’s and I imagine much of that wisdom is chucked out the door by the time your 60.

    It’s pretty scary these day’s when these 20-somethings are getting billions dumped in their laps. They still don’t know squat. They do have plenty to screw up with though…

    This post was just too funny! 

    Thanks Jack.

    • The JackB June 2, 2011 at 2:49 pm

      @markharai:disqus Not me. I am not worried about it because I won’t give the keys to the kingdom away without supervision. 

      Since I am in my forties I will agree with you about when we receive our wisdom. 🙂

      Mainly I was sort of venting about some recent experiences I had with a few companies. Customer service is virtually dead and it makes me crazy.

      It does provide a great opportunity for some companies. If you provide great service many people are willing to pay for it.

      • Mark Harai June 2, 2011 at 3:02 pm

        There really is no good common sense behind giving young people the keys to building your company’s social footprint. 

        Nothing against young people, they’re just not seasoned enough to do it effectively as you’ve pointed out.Just a whole lot of ignorance or blind faith, neither of which typically produces positive results or profits…

        • The JackB June 2, 2011 at 3:15 pm

          @markharai:disqus I think that with some of the larger companies they sometimes have less fear about what could happen if someone made a mistake. Not always the smartest way to operate, but…

          You are right about seasoning. It takes time to learn how to do some things and you can’t replace experience. I think that a lot of companies are being pennywise and pound foolish in their trying to save a few bucks by reducing middle mgmt and passing work onto “kids.”

          • Mark Harai June 2, 2011 at 3:22 pm

            That’s really sad, because it could be a catalyst for new business and an opportunity to out perform, out service and build trust with consumers your competitors are missing out on. 

            Is out service a proper statement Jack?  :PAlthough I doubt even the best intentioned young people would really know how to effectively orchestrate and leverage the medium in a comprehensive manner that would produce solid results for small or large businesses. 

            • The JackB June 2, 2011 at 3:38 pm

              @markharai:disqus “out service” works for me.  Really, there are so many easy ways to make it happen and so little effort put into it.

  2. Mark Harai June 2, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Ah Jack, you worry way too much about giving the keys of your business over to a 20 year old social media rock star.

    BTW, I don’t think any wisdom worth talking about kicks in until at least your 40’s and I imagine much of that wisdom is chucked out the door by the time your 60.

    It’s pretty scary these day’s when these 20-somethings are getting billions dumped in their laps. They still don’t know squat. They do have plenty to screw up with though…

    This post was just too funny! 

    Thanks Jack.

    • The JackB June 2, 2011 at 10:49 pm

      @markharai:disqus Not me. I am not worried about it because I won’t give the keys to the kingdom away without supervision. 

      Since I am in my forties I will agree with you about when we receive our wisdom. 🙂

      Mainly I was sort of venting about some recent experiences I had with a few companies. Customer service is virtually dead and it makes me crazy.

      It does provide a great opportunity for some companies. If you provide great service many people are willing to pay for it.

      • Mark Harai June 2, 2011 at 11:02 pm

        There really is no good common sense behind giving young people the keys to building your company’s social footprint. 

        Nothing against young people, they’re just not seasoned enough to do it effectively as you’ve pointed out.Just a whole lot of ignorance or blind faith, neither of which typically produces positive results or profits…

        • The JackB June 2, 2011 at 11:15 pm

          @markharai:disqus I think that with some of the larger companies they sometimes have less fear about what could happen if someone made a mistake. Not always the smartest way to operate, but…

          You are right about seasoning. It takes time to learn how to do some things and you can’t replace experience. I think that a lot of companies are being pennywise and pound foolish in their trying to save a few bucks by reducing middle mgmt and passing work onto “kids.”

          • Mark Harai June 2, 2011 at 11:22 pm

            That’s really sad, because it could be a catalyst for new business and an opportunity to out perform, out service and build trust with consumers your competitors are missing out on. 

            Is out service a proper statement Jack?  :PAlthough I doubt even the best intentioned young people would really know how to effectively orchestrate and leverage the medium in a comprehensive manner that would produce solid results for small or large businesses. 

            • The JackB June 2, 2011 at 11:38 pm

              @markharai:disqus “out service” works for me.  Really, there are so many easy ways to make it happen and so little effort put into it.

  3. Marianne Worley May 31, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    When are companies going to realize that in social media, you need to put your most passionate, knowledgeable people on the “front lines” and give them the authority to actually help people, instead of wasting our time with statements like “Thank you for you inquiry. The appropriate department will contact you within 3-5 business days” ?Grrrrrrrrrr!

    • The JackB May 31, 2011 at 8:23 pm

      @marianneworley:disqus I don’t have a lot of faith but perhaps I should. I think it really depends on who is running things. Some people are forward thinking and progressive to a fault and others move at the speed of you’ll get it we get to it.

  4. Marianne Worley May 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    When are companies going to realize that in social media, you need to put your most passionate, knowledgeable people on the “front lines” and give them the authority to actually help people, instead of wasting our time with statements like “Thank you for you inquiry. The appropriate department will contact you within 3-5 business days” ?Grrrrrrrrrr!

    • The JackB June 1, 2011 at 4:23 am

      @marianneworley:disqus I don’t have a lot of faith but perhaps I should. I think it really depends on who is running things. Some people are forward thinking and progressive to a fault and others move at the speed of you’ll get it we get to it.

  5. Kristen @ Motherese May 31, 2011 at 11:55 am

    This situation reminds me of when I graduated college and some of my 21-year old classmates were being hired as management consultants.  No matter how bright you are, how can you “consult” if you have no experience?  Never made much sense to me.

  6. Kristen May 31, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    This situation reminds me of when I graduated college and some of my 21-year old classmates were being hired as management consultants.  No matter how bright you are, how can you “consult” if you have no experience?  Never made much sense to me.

  7. Kristen May 31, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    This situation reminds me of when I graduated college and some of my 21-year old classmates were being hired as management consultants.  No matter how bright you are, how can you “consult” if you have no experience?  Never made much sense to me.

  8. Kristen May 31, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    This situation reminds me of when I graduated college and some of my 21-year old classmates were being hired as management consultants.  No matter how bright you are, how can you “consult” if you have no experience?  Never made much sense to me.

  9. Davina K. Brewer May 31, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I think @faryna:disqus nailed it: supervision. Yes a 25-year old may have been blogging for 5 years, discovered Twitter in the days before it was ‘cool’ and know from FB brand pages and have spent a good portion of their youth making YT vids. Fine. They still need that clear marketing vision, a solid foundation on which to build the company’s strategy… not their own. I do believe that a good idea can come from anyone, anywhere.. but when it’s Company XYZ’s time and money on the line, there are times it’s the voice of experience that matters. FWIW. 

  10. davinabrewer May 31, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    I think @faryna:disqus nailed it: supervision. Yes a 25-year old may have been blogging for 5 years, discovered Twitter in the days before it was ‘cool’ and know from FB brand pages and have spent a good portion of their youth making YT vids. Fine. They still need that clear marketing vision, a solid foundation on which to build the company’s strategy… not their own. I do believe that a good idea can come from anyone, anywhere.. but when it’s Company XYZ’s time and money on the line, there are times it’s the voice of experience that matters. FWIW. 

  11. Dan Cristo May 31, 2011 at 9:22 am

    It’s quite interesting that, “social media experts” now have the power to make multi-national corporations quake.

  12. Dan Cristo May 31, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    It’s quite interesting that, “social media experts” now have the power to make multi-national corporations quake.

  13. Stan Faryna May 31, 2011 at 3:10 am

    Amen, Jack.

    20 somethings are cheaper and work longer hours. Theoretically, you can give them a script. And, most likely, they won’t push back nor have enough sense to tell you that what you’re doing is wrong and has to change. Or you’ll lose money.

    Of course, there’s nothing wrong with ten 20-somethings under the direction and mentorship of a 35+ year old community manager.

    • The JackB May 31, 2011 at 10:42 am

      @faryna:disqus I am not convinced that they work longer hours- they work different hours. But I don’t disagree with you about mentorship. Everyone needs to learn and it is important to provide opportunities/resources to do so.

      The question with scripts is what happens when the conversation veers of of it.

      • Stan Faryna May 31, 2011 at 10:56 am

        Nobody works as hard as us, Jack. [grin]

        But I could pull 72 hour shifts in my 20s – without slow down. And frequently did so back in the day. Now I’m in a world of hurt if I do a 24 hour stunt. Two day recovery…

        As for going beyond the scripts, we’re back to the need for a mentor and team-building. Laser tag is not team building…

  14. Stan Faryna May 31, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Amen, Jack.

    20 somethings are cheaper and work longer hours. Theoretically, you can give them a script. And, most likely, they won’t push back nor have enough sense to tell you that what you’re doing is wrong and has to change. Or you’ll lose money.

    Of course, there’s nothing wrong with ten 20-somethings under the direction and mentorship of a 35+ year old community manager.

    • The JackB May 31, 2011 at 6:42 pm

      @faryna:disqus I am not convinced that they work longer hours- they work different hours. But I don’t disagree with you about mentorship. Everyone needs to learn and it is important to provide opportunities/resources to do so.

      The question with scripts is what happens when the conversation veers of of it.

      • Stan Faryna May 31, 2011 at 6:56 pm

        Nobody works as hard as us, Jack. [grin]

        But I could pull 72 hour shifts in my 20s – without slow down. And frequently did so back in the day. Now I’m in a world of hurt if I do a 24 hour stunt. Two day recovery…

        As for going beyond the scripts, we’re back to the need for a mentor and team-building. Laser tag is not team building…

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