Can generation Y manage social media?

After starting my first job at The Works just over six weeks ago, an article published by Inc. magazine last week really annoyed me. The article, titled ‘11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media’,made the point that young people should not be left in charge of an organisation’s social media profiles as they cannot be trusted to use it correctly.

Part of my role at The Works is to develop the agency’s social media presence as well as support social media activity across the agency’s client base. After turning 21 just over three weeks ago, I fit into the age bracket that the author believes is irresponsible.

The article states that 23 year olds aren’t mature enough to handle social media accounts and don’t have enough understanding of online etiquette. It also states that you can’t control what the individual’s friends post to your sites and talks about the person keeping your passwords and locking you out of your profiles.

I agree that not everyone aged 23 has the skills to effectively manage social media for an organisation. However, the situations discussed in the article are very extreme cases and portray the idea that no 23 year old can effectively manage social media accounts.

In reality, however, there are a large number of people in the given age bracket who can and who, the majority of the time, can manage social media better than their elders. People of my age group, those slightly older and definitely those younger than me have grown up with social media and use it as a primary form of communication. We have been bombarded with messages from other organisation’s using social media and understand what makes good or bad online communication. Anybody can post negative or inappropriate comments to a site, whether they are friends of the 23 year old managing your accounts or not.

There are some valid points made in the article and I agree with some of them to a certain extent. However, I believe age is just a number and doesn’t reflect maturity or ability. The decision about whether a person is responsible enough or not to manage a social media account comes down to each individual and the situation. It is not possible to tarnish all people of the same age with the same maturity level or ability to manage a situation.

I’m sure there are a number of views about this topic, what do you think? Do you agree with the author or not?

Are Twitter and Facebook the new call centres?

Last Friday night, I was evacuated from the Odeon cinema in the Metrocentre half way through a film. Whilst being stood outside for nearly 20 minutes with no Odeon staff around to ask what was going on, I took to Twitter to voice my complaint. After being let back into the cinema and finding out from a member of staff it had been a fire at The Handmade Burger Company next door, I tweeted again. “So after a long time waiting it turns out it was a fire @handmadeburger“.

On Monday morning, I received a tweet from The Handmade Burger Company (@HandmadeBurger) asking me to email them with further information about my complaint. A few emails later, I was told I would receive drinks vouchers from the company as a way of apologising for my inconvenience.

On the same day, I read an article on the BBC news website asking if “Twitter and Facebook are changing the way we complain?”. This got me to thinking, pre social media would I have complained about the evacuation? Or would I have just got on with it?

We’ve all experienced some form of poor customer service, but would that normally lead us to calling the company’s customer service department to complain? I think not. Social media has given people the opportunity to complain there and then, on the spot, and this can have a huge impact on companies.

One of the first things I did after being evacuated on Friday night was to get my phone out and take to Twitter to voice my opinion. Something I would never have thought about doing a year ago. Social media is no longer for just communicating with friends.

In the BBC news article, it discussed a number of cases where people have taken to Twitter and other social networking sites to complain, with problems being resolved very quickly. It seems like the idea of public humiliation is what causes companies to take problems a lot more seriously online. It poses the question though, why do we need to publicly humiliate a company for them to take us seriously and react?

If companies didn’t realise before, surely they realise now how important social media is for their relationships with customers. I’ve still had no reply from the Odeon Metrocentre, however Handmade Burger Company handled my complaint very well and I look forward to receiving my vouchers and dining with them in the future!

The importance of social media…

Since breaking up from University for summer just less than four weeks ago, the importance of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook have become more apparent to me than ever before.

In the past four weeks not only have I won a £50 shopping voucher courtesy of Metrocentre and their ‘What’s in the bag?’ Twitter competition, I’ve also won a free car valet courtesy of Benfield Motors and their ‘Enjoy the Journey’ campaign. I’ve also spent some time helping out at Newcastle United Foundation, with the aim of raising the profile of the charity and the work that they do.

The more my personal use on sites like Twitter increases and the more industry experience I gain, the more I’ve realised that in todays market, social networking sites play a huge importance in an organisations development.

Organisations who don’t use social sites need to quickly come to grips with the idea that social media is fast becoming the main way to communicate with an audience and they need to understand how and why these sites can work to benefit them.

It is no longer enough for an organisation to just have a Facebook page or a Twitter feed. An organisation must be constantly using these sites to connect with existing and potential customers, ensuring the information they post is both timely and relevant. Having a Facebook page is one thing, have an effective Facebook page is another.

Running competitions on Twitter like ‘Retweet for clean seats! Free valet for 1 winning car lover at a Benfield dealership’ can generate a huge amount of interest in your company. When I saw the competition on my timeline last Tuesday, I automatically re-tweeted without thinking about whether I would win or not. By Tuesday night I was the winner of a free car valet and I haven’t stopped telling people about it since. I don’t know exactly how many people I’ve told, but I’ve definitely talked more about Benfield this week than I ever have before, I think that speaks volumes for itself!

Organisations need to understand that social sites aren’t difficult to run or operate and they can bring huge benefits to a company. All it takes is a little bit of time and effort…

Will Leatha Face really change the way we think?

Ahead of new Government legislation to ban anyone from under the age of 18 using a sunbed, a major PR campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of sunbeds among young people was last week launched by Cancer Research UK.

The campaign shows fictional rapper ‘Leatha Face’ who believes that going on sunbeds will make him stand out from the crowd of rappers he’s competing against. The campaign is being promoted on YouTube and Facebook.

In my eyes this campaign is a bit more cringe than cool. The video itself makes me feel uncomfortable when I watch it for the first time. As soon as I see ‘Leatha Face’ I think he looks more like he’s had a dodgy spray tan than a lifetime of going on sunbeds. Showing my 16 year old sister the video she cringes and says ‘yeah, like that’s going to stop anyone from going on sunbeds’. Considering she’s in the age bracket that the campaign is aimed at, I think her comment sums up what this campaign is going to achieve, in my opinion, not a lot.

When searching on YouTube, the video is the thirteenth result to show and  has only had 1,124 views. On Facebook, the Leatha Face page has had 117 ‘likes’. Considering the vast majority of the target audience use these social platforms I think these results show that the campaign isn’t achieving as much as it possibly could. Digital agency Nonsense, who are the creators of the campaign, have a hard job on their hands. It’s not an easy topic to tackle but I’m not quite convinced that ‘Leatha Face’ will be the one who will change the opinion of the young people who use sunbeds on a regular basis.

I think using platforms that the target audience use such as Facebook and creating a fictional character are real strengths of the campaign, but I just don’t see how the video created is sending out the message that sunbeds shouldn’t be used or how it will change the opinion of the target audience.