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.


Helping Non-HR Do HR – May #SHRMChat Recap


There was one theme that the tweeters returned to frequently in the busy hour that was the May SHRMChat:

Marketing to and educating businesses without an HR function is a huge opportunity that is generally overlooked by most state and local SHRM affiliates.

Most of the chatters admitted that they have a healthy number of members or function attendees that are small business representatives and not specifically HR pros. Some chatters felt that their program offerings were targeted to generic business issues that would benefit everyone, even if their audience was not HR specific.

But more felt that their SHRM affiliate didn’t do enough to market to small business, and needed to reach out to them more specifically instead of waiting for the business to come to the chapter. Some of the suggestions for increasing non-hr attendance at events and programs were

  • Direct marketing and announcements to Chambers of Commerce and local business schools
  • Marketing and reach out efforts through local business press sources
  • Meeting attendance incentives such as free guest attendance and free student admission
  • E-books or other publications on basic HR topics for small business
  • Make sure the Board and volunteer positions includes business pros who are not necessarily HR pros

There was also a robust discussion about the type of programs that would be of interest to small business without an HR function. One of the chatters, Alicia Arenas, a small business strategist, offered some specific suggestions regarding the types of topics or issues that small business wants to address

  • How to have a performance discussion with employees
  • How to motivate employees
  • How to tell when an employee is lying

In short, chapters and councils need to think basic when considering how to attract and educate the business without a dedicated HR pro or consultant.

Finally, the chatters – ever vigilant about how to get their chapters to buy into increased involvement in the non-HR community, discussed how chapters tend to do things that get measured. SHAPE plans that require some type of initiative to reach small business was discussed.  One of my favorite comments was that an initiative that focused on educating and engaging the small business community would be “ripe for a Pinnacle Award.”

Although it wasn’t the last discussion of the chat, this probably best sums up the feelings of the May SHRMchat participants:

Small business access to chapter and council initiatives doesn’t have to mean an increase in membership or revenue. Connecting to your community, and improving human resources business function should be the ultimate goal.

Join us for a special two-part June SHRMChat. Our June topic is “SHRM national – what can they, will they, and should they do for the state/local affiliate?” We will be chatting on Tuesday, June 12, at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST to flesh out these issues in preparation for a special live chat from the SHRM conference in Atlanta. The Atlanta date and time will be announced as soon as it is finalized.

HR 101 – HR and the Law – Part 2

If you haven’t had enough law related information this week, head on over to Creative Chaos Consultant.  I am happy and humbled to be part of the “HR101” series, where guests explore different aspects of HR management.  The focus of the entire series is the small and medium- sized business owner.  This week I offered HR and the Law-Part 2, which discusses some laws that affect HR and why compliance with those laws is good business.