Who speaks for your company — CEO or intern?

In our seminars we run across many companies who assume that young people are social media experts. We are the first to acknowledge that many young people are effective users of social media for their social lives, but we also note that most of them have given little thought on how to use these same social tools for business communications. And very, very, very few of these youthful digital natives have experience being effective users of social media for a business. And their strategic outlook is woefully lacking.

An article about Pizza Hut and its “twintern” prompted me to write this post. It raises some good points to consider. “As more people join Twitter, its marketing potential is becoming more obvious to businesses. Pizza Hut is not the only company that has tasked an intern with diving in. The trade-off: With the assignment comes a branded megaphone and the power to produce a public relations disaster.”

My point — do your best to avoid trashing your brand. Our core point in our “Social Media for Executives” seminar is that social media enables you to communicate faster, cheaper, and deeper than traditional media. Take this social media stuff seriously. Combining rocket-fueled communications power with inexperienced youth cries out for supervision; however our experience suggests that top management’s attention is too often elsewhere — where their comfort level is much higher. Thus the 33 year old marketing person is the supervisor, and frankly our experience suggests that the marketing person in their 30’s is the biggest barrier to successfully embracing social media. This age group completely missed the social media revolution — they were already out of college when facebook and MySpace came along. Thes marketers ose in their 30’s are typically clueless and insecure when it comes to social media. Tough choice between the intern and the marketing person in their 30’s — we’ve lived in this social media world for several years as business executives, and we offer the strategic business point of view to fellow CEOs. There should be no doubt about the answer to the question — Who Speaks for your Company — the CEO or an intern?

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