Social Media Isn’t For 13 Year Olds

A few days ago a super smart friend of mind posted a blog (“Perception and Boobs”) about the importance of calling out speakers and other professional presenters at conferences who wrap their product in a lot of intellectual theory and slick sound bytes, without actually offering anything of practical value. In her laundry list of things she despaired, she made the following statement:

“I’m sick of intellectuals treating social media like it’s NOT something a 13 year old can do.”

Wait . . . what?

Can you imagine your small business social media efforts being run by your kid or grandkid? Niece or nephew? I have several grandkids in the social media space, but I can’t see them successfully handling a customer complaint about quality or prices or customer service.

In fact, many small business owners – way over the age of 13 – are so busy feeding, nurturing, and defending their baby small business that they are the most unsuccessful social media managers in the space.

Recently, an owner of Mile End Deli in New York got into a  very public cat fight with a customer on Twitter and Facebook over a raise in prices. The debate escalated to the point that people began calling for a boycott of the business.


The deli had lost it’s commissary in Super Storm Sandy, and there is no doubt in my mind that the owner was under far too much stress to be worried about posting on Facebook and Twitter. Ultimately an apology was issued on Facebook.

So . . . is social media really so simple that a 13 year old can do it?

I don’t disagree with my friend’s premise that social media, like most subjects at professional conferences, can be over-engineered and presented in a way that makes everyone in the room think that they have to run out and hire the most expensive ad agency on the block. And she’s right that conferences, like the HR conferences that I attend frequently, are far too full of glossy crap instead of real substance, and that people should be complaining.

But social media – good social media – isn’t so simple that any 13 year old can do it. Not usually.

Having someone else take over your small business social media efforts may be the wisest choice, but don’t let your 13 year old do it unless they are more mature, understanding, patient, communicative, intelligent, and reasonable than you are.