I came across this article from Cool People Care encouraging non-profits to hire teenagers to manage their social media marketing efforts instead of asking the older employees to learn how.
While I see the benefit of hiring someone familiar with social media to lead social media initiatives it takes time to build an online community that will translate into offline support. In other words, just because I know how to use social media for ME does not mean I will know how to use social media for YOU or know how to build an US.
So before you rush out to the nearest high school and grab a 15 year old with snazziest Myspace page, you should consider the following:
1. What kind of social media tools do you need and why? The wonderful thing about social media is that it allows you to connect with people where they are. Yet the ease of creating social networks means that not every website will yield the kind of support you need. If you are promoting after school programs for teens Myspace may be a great place to start where as NING is great for active online communities that communicate regularly. Who is your target audience and what message are you trying to send?
2. Are they familiar with the mission and will everyone be on board? We have to make sure that teens are part of the team not just there to do work that we feel other people are “too old and out of touch” to do. So take time to familiarize them with the mission and what the needs of the organization are they are better prepared to keep their eyes open to new tools that they may otherwise not be thinking about. And share the new ideas with all staff members—social media is about inclusion so its outcome shouldn’t be a new kind of exclusion.
3. What goals are you trying to accomplish? More volunteers? More advocates on your behalf? How will you measure progress? What I have noticed about many fan pages and groups is that people join them because their friends may be members or they may agree with the cause, yet the organization still doesn’t get much attention because of the sheer number of groups and fan pages that exist in the first place. So map out goals and be strategic.
I am on board with getting young people involved in new ideas within organizations. Let’s just make sure it’s meaningful.