What do social media and cars have in common?

We are prone to generalise a lot in life and when it comes to technology and the Internet even more so. How many times have you heard people say; “It is only for young people.” Young people understand technology.” “I don’t understand this Internet thing, it is just too scary.” and so on. There are a lot of comments like that, and it is made out of ignorance; yes, you are an ignorant, lazy human being, because if you read the booklet that comes with your sound-system, you will know how it works, if you read up on things, you will understand it better.

We live in a world where anyone can learn about anything, if they really set their minds to it, so stop saying it is not for you, and stop making comments that show other people how ignorant you are.

Which of course brings us to the ever popular belief by the head of marketing of a lot of organisations that by hiring young people, they will sort out social media for them, because that is what young people know, after all, they are on it all day, so they should know how it works. You are wrong, they don’t (and yes, I am generalising here, some of them know exactly what they are doing, because they are interested, they read the manual, they want to know more – and some of them just post pretty pictures).

I drive a car (more like a lawnmower, it’s that small), but I drive it every day, and before the lawnmower I had other cars and some of them broke down a lot. And of course I just jumped out with my toolbox and sorted out the problem in a snap, I should know shouldn’t I, how can I not know how to fix a car if I drive one, that’s just ludicrous! And of course I did read the manual, yes, the whole car manual, so if I must, I can replace a lightbulb, but that’s about it, I can not fix the car just because I drive it. Just like I can not fix your computer because I work on one, or because I am a digital marketer. I can not fix my TV, or my sound-system, or my fridge; of course I can learn to do it myself, but there are people out there that are better at it than me, and maybe will always be better than me at fixing a laptop and a car, it is what they do, but it is not my focus, it is not my destiny.

Using something, and actually understanding how it works are two different things entirely.

People who use Facebook, do not always know how it works, it is called UX and UI and a bunch of other clever acronyms us online people use to show how smart and amazing we are (if we keep you confused, you have to keep using us, don’t you?), but you can search for it on Google (or Bing if you are that way inclined). It comes down to this – these companies like Facebook and Google and Twitter do all the thinking in the back, you don’t have to do it. All they give you is the wrapper around their product to make it easy to use, so you can Tweet about traffic, you can share your funny cat picture, and do all the amazing things that these services allow you to do.

But you still will not know how to use them for marketing, to engage with an audience that actually give a damn about your product or service, to engage with people on such a level, that you actually add something to their lives in stead of just wanting things from them (like cross-selling and up-selling and sweating the client! Seriously!!? Are you managing a gym?). Sometimes we need to do something without expecting anything in return, and this goes for organisations as well, not just individuals. There are very smart people out there, dedicated to helping you use these online spaces effectively for yourself and your organisation, use them, and please pay for their knowledge and experience – yes they can do something in 5 minutes, but it took them 10 years to learn how to do that in 5 minutes, so pay them their worth.

So next time you are about to say something silly like, let’s employ young people because they know how the Internet works, just take a moment and think through that logic, go and stand in a quiet corner if that helps your thinking, and if you still feel like saying it – good luck with your marketing.

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