Back to the digital native issue…

Posted by Gina Rosenthal in social media | Tagged , | 1 Comment

My friend Susan Beebe posted blog post responses to an earnest blog post written by a young professional who lamented that companies looking for social media managers require 5-10 years experience.Since the under 25 crew has grown up with Facebook and Twitter, they are the ones who understand these tools the best, and they haven’t had time to get 5-10 years of experience

Sigh. Another digital native argument. Only young people can understand these amazing tools – everyone else is too old. That argument never sat well with me – maybe because I lead a team that manages social media communications for Dell Storage. Our audience are the men and women who build, manage, and maintain the servers, storage, and networks on which all of these amazing new social media tools run. In fact, our audience has been using these tools for well over 20 years! This is why I made my digital native timeline…if you check it out you’ll see that the true digital natives are my generation, the gen-x’rs.

Even that isn’t the point. The point is we need earnest, cocky young people to infuse organizations with fresh ideas, to shake us out of ruts we may be in. The problem with youth is they don’t realize that they also need guidance, that there is more to the story than what’s on the surface. If they take the time to partner with the old fogeys, there is so much that can be learned. Imagine what we could do if there was a true partnership – youth seeking out (and appreciating) the experience and lessons of the older folks, more experienced folks being patient with newcomers, encouraging them to try their new ideas while side-stepping past mistakes of others.

What do you think? Do young people know how to do everything just because they grew up with these tools? How can we guide them towards building on the mistakes of the recent past, so everyone can benefit from their enthusiasm? Can we move more towards a guild-type structure?


One Response to Back to the digital native issue…

  1. Push says:

    Couldn’t agree more. In your unique situation with your role at Dell, I’d argue that having a person under 25 (or, more importantly, that had the limited maturity and experience demonstrated by the original poster of the source article) would actually hurt your business more than help. The point is to get it right. There is no one-size-fits all application of strategy. In some places and businesses, it may help to have an inexperienced young person at the helm of the social controls… but certainly not in all situations. Personally, I think she ends up coming off like #7 from this list:

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