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