It’s irresponsible to say social media is a “young person’s job”
July 28th, 2012 • Uncategorized
There’s been a lot of talk lately about whether social media is inherently a “young person’s job.” Whether young people are better at social media, even more qualified for social media jobs, because they grew up as digital natives. Most of the discussion has centered around a post written by a girl who just graduated college two months ago, is unemployed, and thinks that because she is 22 and loves Facebook, she is entitled to a social media job.
This is a dangerous way to think about social media and does a disservice to the whole field. Unfortunately, my fear is that many people – and companies – read things like that and truly believe that they can just put a young person in charge of their company’s social media pages, and they’re covered.
This way of thinking – that kids inherently get social, thus they should be in charge – neglects all the other skills and experience that successful social media management requires: an understanding of marketing and communications strategy, an ability to set business goals for social media and strategy to get there, copywriting skills to be able to craft messaging people want to read, an understanding of the web ecosystem and what makes good content and gets pageviews, experience working with a variety of cross functional departments and teams, an understanding of research and web analytics to track performance, and more. If your organization just puts any old intern or fresh college grad with no experience in charge of their social media efforts, they have none of that experience and are bound to fail.
There’s a lot of angry older social media professionals on the internet who have penned responses to Sloane’s piece. Most are unnecessary, since Sloane’s piece is so silly it doesn’t even merit a response. But perhaps one of the best things to come out of the debate is this smart piece by Meghan Peters at Poynter. Peters argues that it’s time for all of us to work on learning about social media, young or old, and take age out of the equation.
Young people aren’t inherently “better” at social media just because they are young and use the tools more. Social media is like any other field — it requires experience, skills, knowledge, and strategy. An intern or a fresh grad don’t necessarily have an advantage because of their age, so take age out of it. Does that recent grad actually have professional experience in marketing, communications, and social media? Age shouldn’t be the only qualification – because it’s no qualification at all for any other type of job, and social media should be no different.
It’s time for more people to respect social media marketing as they would any other type of digital or marketing work — and recognize that it has nothing to do with age, young or old, and has everything to do with skills and experience.