Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Is There a Perfect Age for a Social Media Manager?

Simple answer, No.

This past week there have been two blog posts that have caught my attention more than others. The first was from written by a senior at the University of Iowa. The post was about how Social Media Managers should be no older than 25. The second post was from the Director of Community at BlogWorld. This post was about being over 40 and working in social media

These caught my attention because I'm right on the cusp of the 25 segment, and I work with many who are in the over 40 segment. 

I do not agree that Social Media Managers have to be 25 or younger. There is a general concept of social media that the manager needs to understand. That concept is community engagement. Deb Ng, author of the "On Being Over 40 and Working in Social Media," made some great points in her post. She notes that many on social media tend to post before thinking things all the way through. This is true of personal social media accounts. The younger demographics and even some older demographics misplace the filter as to what should be posted and what shouldn't. Ng also points out that it is important for those coming out of college to take an entry level job to make mistakes and learn.

While I completely agree with what Ng says about learning how to work with teams and learning from mistakes, those 40 and older on marketing teams have an idea of how social media should work, but many times it's not how it does work. I attribute this to the newness of social media to marketing teams. There is still the idea that social media should work like all other marketing. The idea that social media should be tied to leads, sales and other marketing resources. Yes, there are times in which this works, but we must remember that social media is not a broadcast medium. We must engage with the community. This is where I think the 25 year old can add to the marketing team. 

I do agree with Cathryn Sloane that some people just have a better handle on social media. But saying that it is those who have grown up with social media is not true. If it were, then some could argue that those who have a better grasp on Internet Advertising are those younger than 30 as they have grown up with the internet.

Regardless of age, as long as there is an integrated, engaging approach to social media with an understanding of the target audience, the social media manager can and will be successful.

1 Comment:

Joe Loveless said...

This is a well phrased point of view and spot on in my experience, Lane. A mix of understanding, strategy, and execution are all required. The age debate becomes a red herring.

Nice post and good point of view.