Why Social Media Managers Should Be Experienced

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Why Social Media Managers Should be Experienced

Why Social Media Managers Should be Experienced

Some precious kid right out of college just argued that every social media manager should be under 25, and the heads of people over 25 across social media spontaneously exploded. While it has been amusing to comment and read the comments on that post, I think the scary thing here is that what this green author stated is actually believed/bought into by some companies. I am here to tell you that your social media manager should be experienced for a number of reasons. For one thing, experience would tell you writing a post with absurd claims that offend a large majority of people in your industry is a bad idea.

Remember that social media is a company’s front line, and often times its most visible and public communications tool. Would you put an intern in charge of a press conference? Would you put someone with no life experience in charge of doing news interviews? Would you put a 22-year-old in charge of customer service? Of course not.

Remember that social media is not new. Anyone who tells you that (often people who think that because social media is new to THEM) is unqualified. Social media has been around for decades: BBS systems, AOL chat rooms, CompuServe. Yes, I said it. CompuServe. It has evolved.

Those of us who have been using it since the BBS era understand just a tad bit more than those who think social media was invented when Facebook launched. We are digital natives. We were there for the first home computers, for the first “online,” and for the first Internet. We understand gaming. We were around for Pong, for crying out loud. We get mobile. We were there when the first car phones came out (yes, I said car, not mobile), and the first handheld mobile was a brick (and every call was charged by the minute).

But truly, this isn’t an age battle (although it might seem so). I know some brilliant 20-somethings who truly get it (Heidi Bobier comes to mind). I know 30- and 40-somethings who will never get it, and really don’t want to because social media isn’t their thing.

This argument that you have to be young to understand it, however, is absurd and flawed. The author of the original post argues that it is a mistake for companies to require 5 to 10 years of experience for a social media manager position. I think that is completely reasonable, and five years is not a long time. That is someone who is still in their 20s if they jumped right into this after college.

Experience, however, is crucial. Experience teaches you how to respond when things get ugly (and they can get ugly in an instant online), and how important it is to find out the moment they get ugly. It gives you the savvy, having seen social networks come and go over the decades, to know which ones are more than just a passing fad.

Experience in social media teaches you that you can’t use it as a place to broadcast a message, but it is best used as a tool for interaction.

Experience teaches you that you will never stop learning, no matter what your age or level.

Photo of Old School Cell Phone © angrylittledwarf – Fotolia.com

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About the author: Kelby Carr (522 Posts)

Kelby Carr is the founder and publisher of Type-A Parent. She also is the organizer of the Type-A Parent Conference. She is the author of Pinterest For Dummies and Pinterest Marketing For Dummies. You can follow her on Twitter at @typeamom and circle her on Google+.

 

Comments

  1. Fadra

    July 20, 2012

    Sometimes, I think her notion is perpetuated by the fact that the under 25 sect works for CHEAP, an attractive proposition to many companies. And for other companies? They are scared of that which they do not know. They just simply forget that many of us old folks actual evolve with the times.

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    • Kelby Carr

      July 20, 2012

      Great point about pay… And I am sure that is a factor.

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  2. Heather

    July 20, 2012

    You Rock. There’s really nothing else to say.

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    • Kelby Carr

      July 20, 2012

      Thank you!!

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  3. Julie

    July 20, 2012

    Thank you! This is exactly what companies should look for when hiring for social media jobs. Experience is key.

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  4. Chris McLaughlin

    July 20, 2012

    Damn straight!

    (You really *do* rock. :D)

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  5. Cindy C.

    July 20, 2012

    And look, you even respond to comments. How did you know to do that at your advanced age???

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    • Kelby Carr

      July 20, 2012

      Lol! True!

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  6. Christina Gleason

    July 20, 2012

    Excellent post. The “under 25″ post came out the same week I attended a local small business expo where, I swear to God, TWO of the panelists in a Social Media Reputation session recommended that small business owners should hire their teenagers to manage their companies’ social media strategy.

    Yes, because a 17-year-old who tlks lyk ths on Facebook is completely qualified for maintaining a social presence for a small business on the simple virtue that they don’t call it “the Face Book” or “the Tweeter.”

    I was not the only 30-ish attendee to express disbelief on Twitter. Sadly, I’m sure people will take that particularly bad advice.

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  7. Maddie Kertay

    July 20, 2012

    While the dear child wrote about social media the idea that young is better is pretty old and yet across the interwebs ( love that word!) topics from health to home restoration are being blogged about and read by a bunch of people who are younger than my oldest child ( knife to the heart). While some of these young’uns are really really talented quite a few scare the pants off of me ( maybe I should say Depends) putting out content and technique that makes my hair stand on end with it’s slipshod quality ( hot glued faux-wood wainscotting anyone?) or in my industry half-assed published sewing patterns that would make my sewing grandmother cry in shame. While new can be wonderful.. experience counts for a whole lot. No one wants an inexperienced heart surgeon for a reason!

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  8. Kate Hamilton

    July 20, 2012

    I love your response! Really brilliant. Chat rooms and forums are always forgotten as precursors of “social media.” Even traditional forms of marketing get no credit for social media’s foundation. Marketing is marketing, and you need experience to do it.

    I was inspired to write a response too today. I just couldn’t help myself. Love to hear your thoughts on what I put together: http://ldig.it/M0ODnR

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  9. Neely

    July 20, 2012

    As a 28 year old social media manager her article did make my head explode. Thank you for this.

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  10. Bridgette

    July 20, 2012

    Great article, Kelby! As the proud owner of one of those “bag-o-phones,” I completely agree. Unfortunately, I was recently laid off from a job I held for 17 years and convincing companies to hire for experience rather than a smaller salary or intern has proven to be a monumental task.

    Even though I am well over 25, I educate myself in order to keep current so my experience is an asset. I have learned from the past and used life experience to better my future decisions. Invaluable!

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    • Kelby Carr

      July 20, 2012

      So sorry to hear you were laid off.

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  11. Lori

    July 20, 2012

    It really comes down to experience and the fact that some people really “get” social media and others don’t, regardless of age. I am a 40-year-old homeschooling mom who “gets” social media better than many 20-somethings ever will, but that doesn’t mean that all 40-year-olds are good at it either. Hire the person, not the age.

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    • Kelby Carr

      July 20, 2012

      Yes! Like any other field or job, some people have a talent for it and others don’t.

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  12. Kristin

    July 20, 2012

    I have a blog, FB, and Twitter. I am a 26 year old school teacher. I have no experience in (nor desire to) social media “manage”. I graduated college in 2008. I cannot believe the gap in ethics, morals, and thankfulness that has occurred in the last 4 years. No wonder these young people can’t find jobs! They feel this sense of accomplishment and entitlement without ever having actually ACCOMPLISHED anything. Millenials are not all alike.

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    • Chloe Jeffreys

      July 21, 2012

      Do you think this is a result of the cultural stress on self-esteem versus actual achievement in schools over the past several years? We aren’t all unique snowflakes, you know?

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  13. Sonia

    July 20, 2012

    Came over to check out your post and you hit it right on the nose girl. I am 42 and been in marketing for the last 7 years and worked my tail off to get where I am to have some “child” tell me that you have to be a certain age to be “end all”. Really? That post is going to come back to haunt her and lets see if she has J.O.B. then….

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  14. Kate S.

    July 21, 2012

    Kelby,
    Awesome points, especially from a reputation management angle. Following the original argument’s logic, all customer service teams should be <25. Imagine how irate you would be if you called for information on your mortgage and got a 21 year old with no customer experience! Why would anyone suggest this in social?

    (I agreed with your point but took a different POV. Did I miss anything?: http://whoainternet.com/why-every-social-media-manager-should-be-over-25/)

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  15. Chloe Jeffreys

    July 21, 2012

    Ageism is rampant in social media and the blogging world, so no one should be surprised by this young little whipper snapper’s silly opinion.

    People under whatever age is being discriminated against don’t care what is happening to those older then them because we all seem to live in a perpetual state of denial about aging, i.e., that it is going to happen to every single one of us eventually.

    Women in their 20s don’t seem to realize that they are one day going to be that woman in her 40s, 50s or 60s.

    EGADS!!!

    The circle of life is a bitch. And one day when this girl has to eat her words she’s going to wish she’d spoken sweeter ones.

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  16. Cheryl Pitt

    July 21, 2012

    Bwahahaha! I’m not trying to be rude but that made me laugh, how funny. Oh the folly of youth. That whippersnapper just signed himself up for a very early pink slip ;-)

    I’m still relatively new to the socail media scene – about 5 years. And those who came before a vast wells of knowledge for the reasons you listed.

    And even though I wasn’t around for CompuServe (I don’t know what that is/was) and I’m a ripe 33 I’m learning – and that’s what’s important in my opinion. You need the passion, the desire to learn and the ability to evolve with the technology. Age is arbitrary.

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  17. Charlene

    July 21, 2012

    Excellent rebuttal. Yet, another sad example of an entitlement generation: “I should get the job cause I’m hip in social media” rather than actually working in it for awhile and earning the title. Her frustration is based on the fact she can’t get a job. It is because of her attitude; apparent in the article & probably in her interviews top.

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  18. Daniel Hebert

    July 22, 2012

    Great post Kelby!

    I think it was a bold statement by Cathryn to assume that because she grew up with social media, she is more qualified to be a social media manager than older marketing professionals. I am 21 myself, and I know for a fact that there are some people out there that are 20, 30, 40, and even 50+ that are more qualified than me, because they have a lot more marketing experience than me. Before I became a social media marketer, I would have not even considered myself at all qualified to manage a brand’s reputation online. I had no life experience when I was 16 years old, even though I had a Facebook profile. Liking someone’s status as a friend does not make you qualified to manage a Facebook brand page. At all!

    I received proper social media training from a consultant at my work last summer. He had several years of experience in digital marketing (not just social media). And that helped a lot. He’s 30+, and that helped a lot! I have a marketing degree from university, and I even found that it helps a lot with my social media management, because I do have a bit of business knowledge. Before all of that training, and my degree, I could not have been a social media manager, period. It requires a lot more skills than just growing up with twitter and Facebook… After a business degree, proper social media training, and a year’s worth of experience, only now do I start to feel qualified to manage a brand’s reputation online.

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  19. Hank Osborne

    July 22, 2012

    I have one of those brick phones in my garage somewhere. I remember $600 per month phone bills in 1992 because of that thing. I thought about embedding a modern pay as you go cell into it for fun. I am a former BBS, CompuServ, and AOL user. I have had domains registered in my name since these young college grads were in middle school.

    You have some great points and I agree. There are some early twenty somethings that could handle running social media for some companies, but they are few and far between. In the end it is not as much about just the age of social media users (which is rising on Facebook), but about understanding the age of social media users that a company is targeting who actually have the money to spend on said company’s products.

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  20. Heidi Bobier

    July 23, 2012

    First of all, I’m totally in awe of getting a shout out in this article, especially because I am one of those young whippersnappers who has been given a lot of opportunity very early in my career.

    I think my biggest issue with the whole age debate is that the millennials think that just by having a Facebook page since 2006 they’re automatically qualified to oversee a brand’s online reputation. Having a Facebook account where your friends all “like” the picture you posted of your new haircut is not the same thing as understanding how to respond to a customer that had a bad experience with your employer’s brand. Or, for that matter, how to best use Facebook to motivate your fans to purchase–you know, the reason companies have social media teams.

    I’m less concerned with the “you need 5-10 years experience” qualification (for the record, I’m at four), and more interested in learning what they’ve actually been doing on Facebook for five years. Have they been carefully watching and evaluating what campaigns other companies are running (the cheapest, easiest education for social media, I’m telling you), and seeing how their fans react–or have they just been throwing cows at their friends and waiting for their grapes to be done?

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  21. James Bed Linen Co.

    August 23, 2012

    It’s no longer just about tweeting the latest goings on in your niche or getting all your mates to like your business page or your client’s business pages on Facebook. It’s about creating profesisonal relationships, outreach and good old fashioned people talking to each other. Social Media is becoming a bit of a buzz word for people to add a few zeros at the end of their invoices. Companies can learn a lot from just taking what they do in the real world and transfering it over to social media. It’s exactly the same principle, so why do companies do it so badly!!!

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  22. Vishal Kashyap

    September 10, 2012

    After reading your post, i am too thinking of hiring a social media manager. Actually, yes it is needed in such a competitive professional environment. Thanks a lot for this valuable information. Bookmarked it!!

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