Social Media is Not Solely the Domain of the Young…

…says the young man.

I’m 25, so I’m at the borderline of being “too old” to be your Social Media Manager, according to this article in NextGen Journal.

She makes some allusions to having lived through the early days of social, from remembering early Facebook layouts (originally called TheFacebook, remember?) and texting 40404 to post to Twitter (on my feature phone, I do recall). But what does any of this have to do with using social for marketing?

You might argue that everyone, regardless of age, was along for the ride, or at least everyone under the age of 30. I’m not saying they weren’t, but we spent our adolescence growing up with social media. We were around long enough to see how life worked without it but had it thrown upon us at an age where the ways to make the best/correct use of it came most naturally to us. No one else will ever be able to have as clear an understanding of these services, no matter how much they may think they do.

Really? Social people take quite easily to social technologies and social processes. At a basic level, if you like talking to people, you’re going to like social media.

Which is why social media doesn’t necessarily come easy to me. I love it, I love the community and the engagement that happens on the social web, but I’m not a naturally social person, so I’ve had to be much more intentional about my personal and professional use of social. This has a lot more to do with temperament than age. There are plenty of adults in the tech and marketing worlds much older than 25 (or 30) who have taken to social as easily as those who’ve grown up with it.

She also underestimates the amount of work it takes to go from managing a small social circle of your close fiends and relatives to managing a community that could number in the thousands to hundreds of thousands. You have to deal with much more complicated scenarios than you’re used to as a person, things that can have long-lasting impact on a brand image. This is not something to be taken lightly. There is a process that you have to go through

She does say some things I agree with:

Yet, every time I see a job posting for a Social Media Manager/Associate/etc. and find the employer is looking for five to ten years of direct experience, I wonder why they don’t realize the candidates who are in fact best suited for the position actually aren’t old enough to have that much experience. It is silly for companies to be asking for people who have been around that long in social media when social media itself has barely been around that long (we could consider the beginning of blogging as the “beginning of social media,” but that’s really only part of what they’re looking for). Companies are still in process of shifting their expectations of what social is and how to use it that will still have lingering relics from the old way sitting around.

And this is really what she’s getting at and should have been the focus of her piece: those who used social media socially need to bring that “I am a person” mentality to social for brands.

At its core, a brand is a person – watch this clip from The Corporation. People have feelings towards companies, like they’re people in our lives (kind of gives Romney’s line about “corporations are people” a new look). And social media managers who understand how to be social on social media are the best ones for the job.

And often, this will be younger people, but that shouldn’t be a criteria.

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