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.