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Reading a terrific article by Hollis Thomases of Web Ad.vantage and giggling a bit because it is so obvious this is the trend: hire 18-23 year olds to put the social media face on your company out to the world. 

Bad idea. This is nothing against young talent. They don't always have the experience, or good judgement to help you achieve the desired results of a positive, successful image online. There is a lot of terrific talent to be found. But many companies do their young employees a disservice by just handing them the social media account keys without thoroughly explaining their company's expectations, requirements, as well as company philosophies. Everyone loses.

Keep in mind a few points when asking others to post on behalf of your company on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and responding to reviews and comments online:

  1. They may be focused on their own social-media activity: With the shiny lights of distractions and detours; we all know how easy it is to sail away on a tangent of interesting posts and links while forgetting the purpose of being on that website in the first place.
  2. They may not have the same etiquette or experience to draw from on your behalf.
    How can someone you hired 3 months ago respond to comments made about your 10 year old company that took years to build BY YOU?
  3. You can't control their friends.
    When people post to social media with alternative personas/logins, they can become forgetful as they bounce around logging in and out.  Sometimes YOUR items end up in THEIR social venues where their party-hardy, ne'er-do-well friends think it's funny to post vulgar comments.
  4. Are they posting as YOU, or as themselves working for your company?
    Be very cautious of the prior; it can get you in a heap of trouble that is difficult to undo. Better to give them company accounts that you have access to, but still protect your own account as the principle of a company.
  5. Can they spell and write, really?
    Or do they write in license-plate-ese; B4 is regularly used instead of before?
  6. Are you asking them to give advice or do reputation management when your company isn't "behaving" the best?  That's not fair to them, especially if they have integrity. Don't ask them to lie on your behalf. Put on your big boy or girl pants and address the issues. I told a client once who asked me to remove them from Google because they were getting so many negative comments and reviews. I held back the explosion of laughter in my head, wiped the tears from my eyes and calmly advised them, "Stop being bad. Do better.  The rest will take care of itself."

I have hired several younger people and a few "first timers" of varying ages to help me.  Their biggest fumble is my lack of training. I take responsiblity for their failure if I do not make my expectations clear, asking them to spit back to me what I just told them I expected.  When it is their responsiblity is when they need to either step up to the honest revelation that they cannot meet my expectations or ask me to explain it again until we are all speaking the same language.  At this point we can either part ways or shift the tasks and projects to fit their talents.

You can read Hollis Thomases' article on inc. here >