How old is your social media manager?

budding social media manager
budding social media manager?

There are a whole new series of job titles evolving in the online world. One of those is “Social Media Manager”. It’s a role that didn’t exist when I was at university the second time. And let’s not talk about the the first time I was at university – the internet hadn’t been invented and our essays were hand-written, double-spaced and came back red-inked.

Does that mean I am unfit for the role of Social Media Manager? Well according to Cathryn Sloan, yes. Merely being over 25 disqualifies me from the role, because the under-25s grew up with social media therefore they’re better at it.

The key is that we learned to use social media socially before professionally, rather than vice versa or simultaneously. After all, it is called social media; the seemingly obvious importance of incorporating comforting social aspects into professional usage seems to go over several companies’ heads. To many people in the generations above us, Facebook and Twitter are just the latest ways of getting messages out there to the public, that also happen to be the best.

I think her argument has merit, so much so that the the person in my team with the most “social media” in her job is in her twenties. She’s finding ways for our content to become more social, working to consolidate our Linkedin presence, and coaching subject matter experts on using Social Media.

However I expect a lot more from a social media manager than knowledge of social media, to be valuable they must also;

  • understand our brand
  • know our company culture
  • know our products and services
  • be able to sustain a campaign
  • understand privacy constraints
  • know the regulations concerning the financial services industry (and ours is not the only highly regulated industry)
  • know our customers.

The last one is absolutely crucial, and the one where the “I grew up with facebook” logic is most likely to fail, for the very simple reason that our customers are not all 25-year-old new graduates who grew up on social media sites.

If I were hiring for a social media team the younger-than-25 new graduates might get hired at a junior level to help the content experts develop their content in a social direction. But Cathryn Sloane, with her B.A. in creative nonfiction writing, is probably underqualified.

Likeable came up with a list of 5 qualities of a great social media manager, it would be a rare 21-year-old who fulfilled them all (I certainly didn’t). Which is not to say that 21-year-olds should not be hired in social media roles. Just that for most companies the right approach in their communications or marketing or social media teams is going to be a mix of expertise. Some people with a deep knowledge of the company, balanced by some new people with a fresh outlook. The infectious enthusiasm of young people, balanced by more senior people who can see a wider context.

So by all means hire some under-25s into social media roles, you’ll benefit from their fresh take on things and their high comfort level with social media. It seems obvious and logical – but it’s not an SEO rated headline.

Image Toddler Tantrum! – GET BACK!! /f1uffster (Jeanie)/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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