Social media is great for 20 somethings, social media is a marketing responsibility and earth is a disk.
OK the older generation with managers above 40, have quite a challenge to get their arms around social media. But the business starters, college kids are not so much better off just because they are young, learn faster and are more agile. After reviewing the two years of Social Media education engagement I noticed that successful social media managers and successful social media consultants are between 35 and 50. I also noticed that none of the social media rock stars is less than 30. More so I noticed that high impact social media engagements – outside the fancy campaigns – but the ones who seriously improved customer experience, drove consumer engagement, helped to reduce cost or increase revenue were almost all driven, managed and executed by senior people.
This is NOT the end of your career – but you need to turn your assets into a new advantage!
Social media has an interesting surprise in store for the more established generation.
I was interested to find out what the generation from 40 and upwards has that is essential for successful social media initiatives:
While it is so obvious, it is rarely assessed as a key value in a social engagement: the existing networks. Experienced managers in sales, marketing and other market oriented functions typically have dealt with thousands of people and often times took the time and energy to maintain those relationships very well. Those existing relationships are of huge value when entering the social web. The connections are basically a key asset that unfold a huge value when developed further in the hyperactive social web. In a Rolodex the connections are just a stack of cards – but in the social web they become a true asset.
Successful managers know that goals are not achieved by brut force initiatives but through diplomatic navigation of relationship often three or four degrees apart. This is no different in social media. Tweeting a buy one get one free promotion is as useless as it can get. But building relationships across multiple degrees of separation is an art and usually leads to powerful networks.
Business managers need to be able to think strategically – and that strategic thinking is not something you learn in college but over time in business. Social media strategies are no different. Tactical measures, like "let's build a fan page and see what goes" is usually of no success. But a strategic development, starting with a thorough assessment and finishing with a well designed execution plan including reporting is the fabric a social media strategy is built from.
Communication and network skills
Communication skills are acquired and perfected over time. While there are more or less gifted people when it comes to communication, in the end we all learn to communicate over time. And also here time is of essence. All we know is that great leader have always great communication skills. But we also know that those skills need its media to actually communicate.
Since the inception of the human society in ancient Egypt, having connections was always the single most important asset of successful leaders. But having those connections is like having money – if you don't let it work for you, you won't be able to enjoy any gains.
Turning the assets into an advantage
All of the above has been a long term investment and hopefully well maintained. Social media can be an accelerator for those investments and a competitive advantage in a career race – but if you don't use it in the new world you loose the advantage and possibly even your career.
To help a manager over 40 to unfold the power of his or her connection and management assets, we developed a dedicated management workshop that help managers to leverage their assets in the new hyper connected world. The Social Media Primer For Managers is designed to help managers and managers in transition to bring their assets in alignment with the mechanisms and the rules of the new social media world. The workshop helps managers to recognize the impact social media has on business organizations, rationalize the opportunity it has to build a better customer experience, increasing brand reputation, reducing product development mistakes or improving customer support efficiency. It is not about how to tweet – but what to expect from a team engaging in the social web.
For those who are in denial, reject any change and hope the good old days come back like the summer from last year will continue to fight an endless war against evolution and eventually accuse others of age discrimination. But those who understand to leverage their assets and bring them to flourish in the new world have a serious competitive advantage.