I’m a millennial. Of course I know the rules – 140 characters, be interesting or funny or controversial, tweet @people, and #EverythingThatCouldPossiblyBeRelevant.
So you can only imagine how far back into my head both of my eyes rolled when two emails with this subject line popped into my inbox over the course of the last week.
The first obviously was an innocuous invitation to actually interact with the platform, timed precisely 48 hours after establishing my Twitter profile. The second email, however, has stuck with me. It struck me more as a silent jab from a young marketing professional sitting behind a blue screen, freshly minted – as I am soon to be – with bright eyes and an expensive degree from an undergraduate business school. I can just imagine this faceless YoPro (Young Professional) jeering: Connor Desmond YOU Don’t Know How to Tweet? Are you really one of us? Are you lying to all of these companies that you’re applying to? Maybe your degree really is a B.S.
And so I’m sitting here stumped. Forced to contemplate the revelation that perhaps my limited social presence—previously restricted to Snapchat and Facebook—isn’t the superior advantage I’d once imagined it to be. Perhaps the hours I hadn’t been wasting on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn were instead hours of archived lessons that I had squandered—missed opportunities to hone my digital skills and tap into the collective mind of our millennial generation. What are we really interested in? What drives us? What do we want from businesses? Perhaps I’ll never know.
Perhaps my lack of a precisely curated online presence has actually curated my exhibit in a history museum, where I will be forever memorialized as a Millennial with Much Potential, forced into extinction by his refusal to buy into social hype.
Or perhaps Twitter is dying and desperate for me to traffic their pages.
Personally, I’m not convinced that I’m the one they should be looking for…I come into this class as someone with a lot of knowledge about social media but limited practical experience with it. I have had Twitter for eight days, and LinkedIn for four. And candidly I am a skeptic.
I have been lectured countless times by professors and career counselors urging us to engage with social media so that we can pick up these high demand skills, learn to market ourselves online, and connect with future employers. I have listened to these PhDs rant about the power of social media to bridge the gap between corporations and Generation Y. But I have also witnessed nearly all of Generation Y ranting right back about the annoyance of advertisements being crammed into any screen where we scroll. Not to mention an Orwellian level of targeting advertising that can ruin both brands and these social experiences for us. Companies love to hire us because we know how to post, instead of focusing on thought leadership about what and why they should be posting.
Clearly there is a disconnect somewhere, but no one seems to be leading this conversation. But that’s what I signed up for. That’s why I’m here.
A class on optimizing Twitter posts and when to post pictures in order to get the most likes works for my mother—no seriously, it has helped her grow her business surprisingly well for someone who regularly asks for my help in downloading iTunes updates. But this skill set won’t serve me for more than five years, when assuredly we’ll have moved on to a new fad. Rather my reason for being in this class is to learn how to think about social media as conceptual tool. Why does society love social media? How can we engage with users rather annoy them?
I am often told by friends—particularly those thirsty for likes, favorites, and retweets (but that’s a separate issue I won’t unpack here)—that I should just sign up for the full suite of social sites. After all I am one of the few hold-outs—a member of a select set that refuses to ‘join up’. But clearly, that isn’t the case. There are thousands—if not millions—of millennials with me in this sizable minority.
What is it that these other Anti-Social Millennials are looking for and how can businesses provide an impetus for them to connect in new networks that will be meaningful for them? Do THEY know how to tweet?
THIS. This is the kind of thing I’m here to think about and discuss.
In short, my thoughts on social media and digital business are that we need to begin to shift the conversation from platforms to long-term plans. I don’t need to understand all of the features, I need to understand how to identify what’s next and what will genuinely excite and engage future consumers.
So yes. Yes, I do know how to tweet. But I don’t know why I should.