I’ve had two uncomfortable situations around social media recently that really reflect my age - both in negative ways. One was in a room where I was the youngest; the other was during a conversation where I was older than my counterpoint by 15 years.
I was speaking in a meeting about a social media strategy for the client. I was told that they didn’t have any idea what I was talking about, and it didn’t seem like they cared to know.
“Are you working on social media?” they asked.
End of discussion.
I was brainstorming Instagram engagement ideas with a colleague who is younger than me and I asked her if she remembered Instagram takeovers which were a big thing about 2-3 years ago. We did one at the non-profit I was working at. There was even an Instagram account in Charlotte that was soley dedicated to takeovers (last I checked, it doesn’t exist anymore).
“Do people still do those?” I asked.
“I’m not sure,” she replied.
“Do you know what I’m talking about?”
All of us use social media to some extent (except my mom who even deleted her Pinterest board because she didn’t like to see pins unrelated to The Beatles), but think about how much any one of us understand these platforms behind our daily interface? Not much. And that’s how Facebook, Instagram, TikTok (and more) like it. Because if the user knows too much on how the platform exists, then the user can outsmart the platform. Yes, it’s my job to know more than the average user, and to help build strategy around that, but I’m still just one person.
What we do know, no matter what platform we are using, is that the content we see changes. It changes so subtlety that we don’t even notice it until months later (if that). For instance, my comment about Instagram takeovers. I realized in that moment that I hadn’t see one in a long time. So I Googled it.
(Turns out, takeovers went away because now Instagram stories exist.)
Baby boomers, gen x’ers and gen z’ers all share one important trait in common: they aren’t interested in learning too much beyond which social media platforms they are comfortable using. Which leaves us millenials stuck in the middle to know a little about everything. You can know an inch deep and a mile wide, but not a mile wide and a mile deep. Not if you expect to do anything well, and especially if you’re not a solopreneuer.
So please, those of you outside of my generation. Give us millennials some grace. We know a lot because we’re wicked smart, but we don’t know it all when it comes to social media. In fact, I challenge you to find someone who does.
I have a lot of work I could give them.