Pardon the generalization: I don’t mean to attack people who look down on 23-year-olds specifically. No wait… maybe I do. This article is a rebuttle to 11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media posted in the Time Business section last week. The author claims that 23-year-olds are too immature, aren’t technically savvy, and have friends that may post inappropriate content to your company’s social media account. Since some of it (especially that last bit) is a stretch, it leads me to believe that the author made an unfortunate hire at some point, leading her to publish an article on a very large publication that misrepresents an entire generation. I work with several 23-year-olds who manage HubSpot’s social media accounts. And just a few years ago, I myself was a 23 year old managing Harley-Davidson’s social media campaigns; now I’m the Head of International Marketing at HubSpot. So I wanted to help clear things up.
If your business is looking for a social media manager and targets a younger audience, you might be hesitating to hire someone fresh out of college. Maybe you fear that they are irresponsible, or don’t have the business acumen they’d need to succeed. Frankly, this kind of logic is based on stereotypes that aren’t accurate of most motivated young marketers. Here’s why you can rest easy entrusting your social media efforts to a recent college graduate.
1. They have a fantastic work ethic
These days, college students are juggling classes, internships, and paid jobs as well to ease the burden of student loan debt. Many even have a blog or entrepreneurial project on the side. So by the time they graduate, they enter the business world hard-working adults who are used to putting in 60+ hour weeks. I just got an email at 1am from one of HubSpot’s young social media managers; she just launched this awesome template for creating infographics in PowerPoint. Proof right there.
2. They are extremely motivated to succeed
In today’s day and age, we have 30-somethings like Marissa Mayer becoming CEO of major companies like Yahoo. With lots of young and successful business executives to look up to, it seems more achievable to make it to the top faster, and it’s a motivating feeling. Recent college grads know they need to work extremely hard to make that happen for themselves, and will work their tails off to get there. So they’ll be very eager to go above and beyond to impress you.
3. They know the latest social media trends
Not only will they be managing your social media accounts, but they’ve also been using social media for years; many since they were in high school. They also know the latest publications to follow and networking events to attend to find out the newest social media trends. Also, a lot of their friends are in the social media business just like them, so they’ll hear the latest trends socially; that’s something you won’t find as often in older generations.
4. They continue practicing their trade off-hours
When they’re not at work–and yes, sometimes when they are–they will continue using social media to connect with their friends. This is a GOOD thing. They know what up-and-coming social media sites are worthwhile opportunities–I mean, come on, did anyone really expect Pinterest to take off like it has? Oh, right. The 23-year-olds did. Being online all the time helps them know what their friends are socially endorsing, including their peers, parents, and even grandparents. And when they discover on their own that you can localize your Facebook posts by clicking around at midnight, guess whose company will benefit from a new global social media strategy? Yours.
5. They are detail-oriented
Recent college grads are used to losing 10 points on term papers for every spelling and grammar mistake they make, so they’re great at making sure their work is free from mistakes. I’m always sending my work to our 20-something social media and blogging team to edit, because they will catch everything. It’s fabulous. I’d be confident that their status updates, tweets, posts, etc. are error-free. And if they’re not, they’re only human, and one can make mistakes at any age.
6. They will learn your business quickly
Young adults are like sponges for knowledge. Yes, when they are new hires, they will need training, and it will take some time to get up to speed. But a 30- or 40-year old hire isn’t just going to magically know your business inside-and-out in a day either. The great thing about college grads is that they’re eager to be trained. They’re eager to take in new knowledge. They’re not in a rut, or stuck in their old ways. They’re starting fresh careers, and are ready and willing to learn.
7. They know how to communicate online
Again, 20-somethings have been using social media since high school. So they’ve had a lot of experience cramming information into 140 characters or less. They know all the different types of updates you can make on Facebook, and can be more creative these social media platforms they’ve been using for years.
8. They’re social media savvy AND technically savvy
To say that 20-somethings aren’t technically savvy is just naive. Not only can they quickly navigate the newest social media platforms, but they can set you up with a new WordPress site overnight. They can pimp out your Facebook page so you can get more likes. They can crunch your Facebook engagement stats in Excel. They can whip up a new Twitter background in Photoshop in no time.
9. They have fewer personal-life commitments
Sure, 20-something’s aren’t as likely to settle down as they were 50 years ago. But that just means that they will be willing to get into work before you walk in the door and stay later than you, just to impress you. You’ll be able to send them on to conferences to find out the latest social media trends, since they’re not tied down. And they’ll reply to urgent tweets at night, and on the weekends, without the distraction of screaming babies.
10. They won’t settle for the mundane
20-somethings are often accused of job-hopping. In my experience, this isn’t necessarily the fault of the 20-something. It’s because they got bored by their jobs, or were stifled by a micromanaging boss. Yes, sometimes it’s because they realized that career path wasn’t for them, and that is a risk of hiring someone so young. But they will be more likely to bring a lot of creativity to your social media strategy in order to make their own jobs more fulfilling and exciting, even if it means using nights and weekends to do so–if you let them. I hear a lot from young professionals that enjoying their job is worth more to them they a high-paying job. That’s not at all to say that you should underpay them, but it goes to show that they are more likely to be seeking fulfillment rather than greedily climbing up any ladders.
11. They know they have big shoes to fill
Whether you know it or not, your college-grad hires look up to you as a role model. If you treat them with respect, they will be willing to learn from you, to work hard for you, and will be awesome and loyal employees. They will implement creative new campaigns, work long hours, and to put it plainly, they’ll kick ass.
Dan Zarrella, a social media expert at HubSpot who is well-known in the industry recently coincidentally tweeted:
Those ladies on HubSpot’s social media team are all early 20-somethings. And they’re excelling at their role running social media. So let’s stop looking down on 23-year-olds. Instead, let’s empower them to be the next innovative leaders of the marketing industry.
What do you think of today’s 20-something social media experts? Share your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to hear them!