As you are reading this blog, I’ll assume that you are a user of social media. Most of us are these days, but whether we are maximising its full potential for our businesses is another question. I’d openly admit there is more we could do at Brightsparks!
It is always problematic to suggest that people of a certain age tend to behave in a certain way, but I think that it is fair to say that if you spend your teenage years on various social sites, that trend is likely to develop further along the line as you enter your career. Anyone over the age of about 30 won’t have adopted social media in their teenage years. On the other hand, the early-adopter 20-somethings will have been at the bleeding edge of the industry for ten or so years.
For decades, business was not overly dependant on looking to the younger generation of employees for direction. The Board of Directors took the strain and their experience trickled down to the rest of the organisation. However, in the age of killer apps and online immortality, the online space is providing incremental opportunities across multiple functions. Your graduates and emerging talent are the social media natives – yes, lots of older employees have picked it up quickly, but most of them will be following rather than leading.
The more progressive businesses are encouraging this participation from the bright and hungry grads that they have recently hired. They want to make a mark – why not let them contribute in an area with which they are intimately familiar?
Marketing departments are listening to their customers where their customers hang out. Sales departments are refining their messages to suit each communication channel. HR are engaging their own employees and finding the most suitable new ones at the same time. Even traditionally internal-facing departments such as operations are benefiting from the crowd-sourced best practice that social media platforms can offer.
When a business is tuned in to social media, there is so much to learn. You simply have to understand where to listen and whom to listen to. If it were just Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, this wouldn’t be so hard, but the future customers of tomorrow don’t tend to be there so much these days. That is why companies need their grads to help them stay where their customers are talking.
Much of the benefit for business will come from improvement in data analytics, but you still need interpreters who understand who lies behind the data. This is an incredibly exciting (if not slightly disconcerting) area of customer experience, and we have placed a number of graduates into such roles recently.
I’m not sure what our lives will look like in ten or twenty year’s time. Maybe we will all be walking around with virtual reality or augmented reality glasses or an army of drones hovering overhead, ready to fulfil our every whim. What you can be sure of is that we will be willing to share ever more of our lives in order to enjoy such benefits, and for the business that is ready to integrate into this new reality, the benefits are considerable.
Technology “native” grads will have a unique place in the new hierarchy.