Millennial Mentors: Lessons From Young Social Media Professionals
“Offer them a platform, a training meeting to lead, or set up knowledge swaps where they can share their expertise and in turn pick up some industry insights from more senior staff.”
When we think about mentoring relationships, we typically envision the older professional guiding their younger protégé, offering up insights gained through years of hard work and experience. The nature of social media and technology more broadly, however, is such that the mentor-mentee relationship needs to be reconsidered.
Millennials are on the pulse of new technology and are quick to understand different platforms and how to best put them to use. They’re the first generation that can truly be considered digital natives, having grown up using computers and surfing the web.
This makes young professionals an incredible source of knowledge – as long as more senior colleagues can accept the changed direction of knowledge flow. The reversal even has a name; it’s been dubbed “reverse mentoring.”
It’s time to embrace reverse mentoring as a powerful tool in your organization. By doing so, you’ll position your business ahead of the curve and set the standard for social media use.
As any millennial with a long lapsed Myspace account can tell you, being active and engaged on social media is very different from just having an account. If your account sits quietly, hoping to accumulate likes, or just talks into the void rather than talking to other users, it isn’t doing your company much good. You can’t just have a social account – you have to be social.
When your company sets up social networking accounts, add accounts belonging to partner companies and clients. Post pictures and videos that personalize the account. Ask questions that encourage engagement from other users and respond in turn. Actually being social is what makes having these accounts work.
Narrow The Field
Of course, no matter how engaged your company is on social media, you aren’t going to get universal buy-in. That’s why you should trust your in-house millennial experts when they explain the value of targeting tools. Even if you’re only using one platform, there are ways to personalize your engagement to increase audience interest.
Some great ways to narrow the scope of your social media presence include using filters to select who sees a message or creating hashtag friendly concepts that focus on different groups depending on the day. Think about what you could do with a tag like #marketerMondays – carving out a specific day for one audience. This is how you push social media engagement to the next level.
Adjust Your Tone
One thing that’s holding back professionals and businesses on social media is an over-attachment to formality. Trained to be cordial and moderate in all professional writing, many older social media users struggle to adjust their tone to the new platform. A more casual approach, however, has significant advantages on these sites – it humanizes and contextualizes professional relationships.
Drop the formality on Facebook and Twitter and start typing the way you talk. You don’t need to pick up the most casual habits of millennials – your clients will be perfectly happy if you skip the text speak – but don’t’ be afraid to sound chatty. Not comfortable with emojis in the workplace? That’s okay too, but consider whether the occasional meme has a place on your page, at least on casual Fridays.
These tips are just scraping the surface of what millennials can teach you about social media use in the workplace – but companies have to create structures that embrace younger employees as valued and knowledgeable members of the team.
Offer them a platform, a training meeting to lead, or set up knowledge swaps where they can share their expertise and in turn pick up some industry insights from more senior staff. At its finest, mentoring recognizes that everyone is an expert at something and when it comes to social media, millennials have proven their skills.
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