The other day I read an article in The New York Times about many college graduates and other young people ages 18 to 24 with some formal education but without a college degree being homeless. Many of them have been employed at several jobs, only to be let go because of the economy. Some of them still have low-paying jobs that don’t meet their limited financial requirements.
One person the article mentioned, Lance Fuller, a 2010 University of Florida graduate in journalism had started a blog, Voices of a Lost Generation. Following a link in the article, I went to his site and was impressed with his content. His writing style was clear and concise and his arguments were well constructed. In fact, the article I read was so appealing that I figured I might hire him to write some content for me for some of my clients.
Through Facebook, I also contacted a friend in Ireland who is building a social media team and recommended Lance to him. (Remember, at this point, I still had not spoken or interacted with Lance.) My friend was also impressed with Lance’s writing style, but told me that he had just hired two writers. Nonetheless, he had some upcoming jobs and might hire Lance to do some freelance writing for him, too.
There are several interesting conclusions to be drawn from this.
First, there is a wealth of talent that is available and just waiting to be hired. The employment picture for 18- to 24-year-olds in many cases is rather bleak and they are hungry for a chance. Any company willing to hire a qualified young adult might be well rewarded.
Second, it was very difficult to reach Lance and as of the time that this article was written, I still have been unable to contact him. I have tried to reach him through his blog and the society it sent me to. I even looked him up on Facebook and messaged him. No response anywhere.
This really makes we wonder what students learn in college. Yes, they learn the basics they need for their majors and minors. And by the time they get to college, most of them are extremely proficient using parts of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a host of other social media sites.
And yet, they don’t know the first thing about marketing themselves or even understand the need to provide a simple email address. Here is a situation where employment is a real possibility — sight unseen — and yet the individual cannot be reached. Although they are able to reach almost anywhere online — the world is indeed flat in this regard — they don’t know how to use social media to obtain employment or to be prepared for an opportunity, should it appear.
Unfortunately, this behavior is not relegated to the young. It is very common in many online businesses and websites.
A recent client we just picked up, a law firm, dithered for almost two years before agreeing to the rebuilding of its website and the implementation of a social media marketing plan. For well over four years, its website and online presence had generated no new business or quality leads. Yet, they implemented few changes and totally missed any opportunities for new business it might have generated.
If your business has a website — and it should, you must know your analytics. If someone asks, your marketing person should be able to immediately report the number of visitors, conversions and the amount of time they remain on your website. They should even know, which pages were the most popular and what interested your viewers and what did not. A sharp marketing person could even augment these insights by examining competitors’ websites and determining areas of interests and importance for their viewers. Remember, this is your business and by not examining your analytics and ensuring your website and social marketing remains interesting and effective, you too, are also missing potential opportunities.
Rather than end 2012 on a sour note, I enclose my two prognostications for 2013 and social media. One is that there will be a continuing emphasis on great content. In fact, many recent discussions have focused on how much content is needed to be able to close a sale. My second prediction is that visually attractive articles, sites and videos will become much more the norm. While “content is king” articles will always be important, I expect them to be trumped by image and video content by the end of 2013. So, if your analytics reports that your website is unproductive, make sure to update it with the images and videos that will attract and convert your targeted audience.
Bruce Newman is the president of wwWebevents.com, a division of The Productivity Institute L.L.C. in Carmel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.