Truth About the Facebook Generation.

I remember the first time I heard about Facebook. My older, wiser sibling told me I absolutely needed to start using it the moment after I finished high school. I ran into a major problem when Facebook didn’t support my small private college in South Dakota. I know it is hard to imagine such a hideous time when Facebook was exclusive to a pull-down list of colleges and universities across the US, but seriously, it happened. Solution? Join MySpace. That was fine for connecting with a few people prior to walking on campus, but my usage took an immediate dive the first day Facebook added my school to the exclusive pull-down list (about a week into my freshman year).

Fast forward four years.

The novelty of Facebook has dissipated a bit in favor of emerging social media tools. I have four years of experience using Facebook…but who in the next generation of the working force doesn’t? The internet is just what we do. As much as this idea is running rampant through the current class of people in the business world, I do not find the general college crowd to have the same passion for social media that I do.

In a class of 30 (journalism no less), two people had heard of and were using Twitter. 7%. It would have been less in my marketing class of 35-40 (I know because I asked during a presentation in which I used Twitter). As cliché as it is, I am learning new information about social media every day and even getting a good chunk of my news from blogs and Twitter (most recently the Facebook controversy over ownership of info). My school (like most others) does not offer any social media or interactive web marketing classes, so I am doing my best to pick up the information on the fly through practice. I am not stopping at ‘getting familiar’ with social media; I am searching for new ways to utilize these tools. That is where business is, that is where I want to be. I do not want to start at zero in May; I can jump right into improving the company I work for and begin by offering clients ideas and value that they can’t find elsewhere.

So, what is the truth about the Facebook Generation? The truth is that most of us do not have a clue what Social Media means in the big picture. Be careful about what you assume when talking to the incoming work force. Many people I know in my age group cannot navigate the internet efficiently or write well enough to convey an idea. The personal game of Facebook is where the average college student lives, practices, and stops exploring. We may have grown up with the internet, but it still takes work and learning to use all facets of the internet effectively to promote an idea, persona, or client.

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9 thoughts on “Truth About the Facebook Generation.

  1. Nice post. I agree- I’ve been on Facebook for five years, but just recently (after hard work and learning how to effectively communicate ideas through these mediums) have I gained the experience an employer would want in this arena. Just being active on Facebook, or any other social network, is not enough. Technologies are constantly and quickly changing, so it’s an area that you have to be truly passionate about.

  2. Good point. I think any employee can benefit from embracing social media, from copywriters to customer service reps.

    I wonder if companies have been quick to hire “our generation” and been disappointed by their lack of knowledge of social media and the internet in general and therefore, are less willing to hire young now – even when the right person comes along.

    Or are companies more out of the loop as to what this knowledge can gain them and don’t really take advantage of it when looking to hire?

  3. Liz,

    Thank you for the comment. I have heard too many times that everybody from this generation grew up with the internet; we are all experts. Coming from a professional, your input and understanding are refreshing. With hardly any classes being taught in the art of social media, the next question is how do recruiters and HR determine who has the skills and who has simply used it before?

    -Scott

  4. Holli,

    First, thanks. Unfortunately I worry that companies are timid about hiring young talent that *think* they know social media as well.

    My current plan is to search where there are established interactive marketing departments and prove to them that I may not know it all, but I definitely have a head start due to pursuit in my free time.

    Hopefully creativity and passion (while not objective resume material) get the job done.

    -Scott

  5. Good thoughts and a good point, Scott. I think the element that has to be remembered in all of these “social media” shenanigans is the fact that anyone can understand how something works, but it doesn’t mean they know how to use it effectively or make it better.

    For example, I know how to shoot a jump shot. I can go through the motions of setting my feet, jumping, shooting, and following through. But, if I can’t dribble, then the most I’ll ever do is be able to play HORSE. Sadly, the Lakers and Celtics aren’t paying guys that can hit a jumper. They pay basketball players.

    That’s where I think too many people are within the social media realm. Too many companies panicked and started paying people who knew how to play HORSE in the online world before examining their overall skill sets.

    The question in your comment is really the question everybody is asking and no one has an answer for (as far as I can tell).

    That said…I look forward to creating a program at Augie for this sort of thing. Hopefully I can come in and convert Journalism majors to Online Media majors. You can guest teach a class or two of mine. We’ll talk about the good old days, before Twitter and whatnot.

  6. Scott,

    Definitely do your homework and find places where you could intern. Potential employers will want to know how you’ve used these mediums to reach a specific audience. Be creative and don’t fool yourself into thinking you have no experience in this arena. Use your network and resources (online and offline, I’m thinking career center at your University, etc) the best you can and you’ll find something great. Your passion might not be objective resume material, but it will get you in the door somewhere. You’ll find something awesome. :)

  7. “The truth is that most of us do not have a clue what Social Media means in the big picture.” – Could not agree more. I’ve been thinking on this for a while now and I’ve come to the same conclusion. Our age group fancies itself a techie group because we were there when facebook started – but in reality we’re not keeping up. These days I work every day to ‘catch up’ and just 6 months ago I thought I was all over this internet thing. In the end, I think the real lesson here is that internet technology and “new media” literacy are evolving at different rates.

  8. I’m surprised at the small number of marketing students who had heard of or used Twitter. My brain started to scream about the benefit that social media networks can reap for marketing and public relations, but it was all coming out too fast, and I couldn’t make cohesive sentences.

    Essentially: Twitter is people’s dialogue. Much easier to sell to someone when you can read their thoughts. Facebook is people’s social groups. Much easier to sell to someone when you know their niche interests.

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