A Response to: '11 Reasons Why a 23-Year-Old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media'

caitlinz10
Caitlin Zucal Marketing Coordinator, RegEd

Posted on August 17th 2012

A Response to: '11 Reasons Why a 23-Year-Old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media'

ImageBuilding a company’s online following is a major responsibility.  Social media managers must constantly uphold their company’s online reputation, have an eye for branding, and be well acquainted with their employer’s rules on social media etiquette. 

Recently, I read an article by Hollis Thomases explaining 11 reasons why a 23-year-old should not run your social media.  After reading her point of view, I was stunned, not only because I am within the age demographic she is generalizing, but also because one’s age does not depict their success or failure as a social media manager.  Thomases based social management success on age; I choose to write about the best practices that any social media manager should implement in order to be effective, as well as what companies should keep in mind when hiring.

1.       Listen and Become Connected with the Company’s Culture

For her opening argument on why a 23-year-old should not be your social media manager, Thomases writes that new college graduates lack maturity and won’t officially reach adulthood until their late 20s or early 30s. To say that individuals in their early 20s are “not mature enough” or “can’t understand your brand” is a very large generalization.  I also believe it is a major assumption that anyone in their early 30s and older is mature enough to post to social media business accounts.   No matter what his or her age, should a newly hired social media manager immediately jump online and post to company profiles?  Absolutely not!

There are thousands of businesses out there hiring people of all ages who are highly qualified.  However, before posting, all social media managers need to become immersed in the company’s culture, fully understand the organizations’ mission statement, and review all goals the company is looking to achieve on social media.  Every social media manager – even those with years of experience – must take the time to listen online and become acquainted with the company’s online voice, the audience that is being engaged, and the do’s and don’ts of online activity according to the social media policy.

2.       Fully Understand the Company’s Social Media Policy

As I mentioned above, a social media policy is one of the first steps a company needs to take before allowing any employee to jump online because it helps to avoid public relations disasters. The policy protects your brand by clearly stating who should be online, the quality of the content that should be shared, and what the ultimate goals are while fostering an online presence.

Putting social media regulations into writing and familiarizing all employees with company policies will prevent young hires from focusing on their own social media posting at work.  Furthermore, if someone is an active social media user, it doesn’t matter if they are 23 or 43; he or she may be tempted to post to their personal accounts during the day.  Therefore, every employee should be up to speed on the company’s rules for social media engagement.  Defined guidelines stating the appropriate etiquette for social media engagement will provide all employees with a clear understanding of what they can and cannot do online, as well as what they will be held accountable for on social media.

3.       Preparation is Key for Excellent Customer Service and Crisis Management

Along with a policy, companies should provide training for the unexpected. Preparation is key to social media success.  For example, if an unhappy customer writes a negative comment on your Facebook wall, what is the correct way for you social media manger to handle the situation?   Training your employees well will keep all hires within the appropriate communication boundaries, teaching them the proper skills and etiquette for providing excellent customer service and crisis management – while also marketing and branding your company in a positive light.

4.       Be Flexible and Possess a Willingness to Learn

Social media is also a subject that changes every day – in order to be a successful social media manager, one must continue to learn, researching new online platforms and tools that could better represent the company online.  Despite was Thomases says, social media savvy and technical savvy have nothing to do with age – they require flexibility from someone who will learn new techniques and make today’s social media presence stronger than it was yesterday.

5.       Hire Worthy Employees and Provide Them with the Opportunity to Grow

This one’s a no brainer.  People are hired for jobs because they possess great skills, making them assets to the company.  If a 23-year-old has a stellar resume and credentials, is it fair to deny that person the job just because of their age?  No one is guaranteed to be great at a job just because of their age.   It’s that person’s ability to learn and the work ethic behind the age that matters.  If someone is familiar with social media, willing to learn company’s policies and training requirements, and work hard to become an integrate part of a company’s team, then is that person worthy of a fair chance?  If every industry decided to not hire young people just because they aren’t in that late 20s to early 30s age group, what would happen to the work force?  Thomases said, “no one can replace on-the-job training”.  I absolutely agree and it has to start somewhere.  However, it won’t if we stereotype an age demographic right off the bat simply because they are young.  Age does not necessarily mean competency.

6.       Archive All Social Media Activity

No matter who is representing your company online archiving is an essential tool to take advantage of when on social media.  Keeping a record of all social media activity gives you peace of mind, allowing you to view your social media manger’s activity, as well as anything posted or tweeted to company social media accounts.  Archiving is a branch of your social media policy, ensuring that companies “keep the keys” to all online profiles, while also letting social media managers do their jobs.

As I stated before, social media is a serious business.  When hiring a social media manager, make sure it is someone that will take your brand and help it grow.  Many young grads possess drive, passion and brilliant work ethic in addition to social and tech savvy.  Likewise, many professionals who have been in the work force for years are dedicated to learning and researching new social media techniques.  When looking for a new social media manager, take the best practices mentioned above into consideration – not their birth date – and hire the best candidate with an eye for branding in a digital world.

caitlinz10

Caitlin Zucal

Marketing Coordinator, RegEd

Caitlin Zucal is a Marketing Coordinator at RegEd. A graduate of The Ohio State University, she received her degree in International Studies with a concentration in Public Relations and Business. After graduation, Caitlin went on to a professional internship with The Walt Disney Company. Caitlin continues to utilize her skills in writing, as well as organizational and media communications through social media marketing.

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Comments

The one thing that you missed, as did many people who latched onto a preconceived idea of what the article was stating, in turn failing to actually step back and read every word is this: the article was not stating that 23 year olds have no place in social media. 

The article is actually not a "diss" on experienced vibrant young people or a call to not hire anyone just out of college, but rather the article is actually written to companies who blindly reach into the dark and grab the first young person they can find who is on Facebook or Twitter and puts them hastily into a Social Media leadership role without the tools or experience to do the job. That it's informing a company who doesn't understand that Social is more than Tweeting or Posting, that just because the young person is always on their network of choice, doesn't make them qualified and here is why. However, she DOES state the importance of hiring qualified young graduates into roles within the Social Media team. 

It's so clear to me what the article is saying and who the audience is. Particularly when it's linked to Inc., whose demographic is business owners. Everyone needs to get off the defensive, because there isn't an attack. She never said that young graduates have no place in the Social Media workforce, she was telling those small businesses that feel so overwhelmed and don't get the idea of what Social is... that hiring the first young person you can find because they are on Twitter is NOT what you should do, because that inexperienced person (not someone truly studying Social, not someone with experience) may screw up...and this is what you the business owner need to consider in the 11 points.

And, if you think I don't get the point of the article, I actually reached out to the author a week after it was published so that I could show some support to her in light of all of the comments that were off base and in many cases, quite rude. Rather than ruining her career, which it won't because more people understood what she was actually saying, versus what the commentors THOUGHT she was saying. However, it will put quite a crimp on the young careers of many of those commentors who spoke so unprofessionally on a social platform, or lied about their credentials to try and bolster their own points.

I agree. It is so clear what the original article was about and I can clearly relate to that for many companies in Thailand are having the attitude that if the person is young, he or she will definitely know more about the social media strategy and so a right choice to handle it with most of the time disastrous results.

The original article was warning such companies in having the same attitude and adopt a right one. Then why are so many attacking with harsh comments and now an article attacking it?

The problem is the author and many of the other who wrote the comments do not understand the context of the original article and intention behind it. They read the headline, assume the worst and give a passing read, so they can just go to the comments and diss it. 

For the author: please go back, read the original article and read what you have written and compare them under an ultimate truth "Social Media Strategy Success". You will see both of you have written the same thing, just putting it in a different words and context!

 

I couldn't have put it better myself. Well said.

I think there is definitely merit in what you're saying, but the original article has way, way too many generalizations to really stick and the article cries at trolling, regardless if the author claims the opposite in the lede. Look at the first point... Honestly, I think saying 23-year-old social media marketers are not mature enough for the job is just plain sloppy and opinionated. There's not an ounce of fact there. Maturity doesn't equal age, regardless of the study you use to back your statement up - like another commenter noted, "just read the news."

A good percentage of the other reasons are shakey at best, I think; there are an awful lot of "They may be" "They may not" straws being grasped at. Replace the age of 23 with 33, 53 or 93 and every one of these reasons still apply.

Now, beyond those points, which are plain moot, if you asked me, the rest are pretty solid opinions. Which, like everyone else, Thomases is entitled to. 

 

 

Hi Caitlin, age is not a problem when the people that we are going to hire for social media marketing have high EQ. That's the most important thing we need to have.

I have to agree -- I think the original article is speaking to the company who asumes that because someone is very young they have a better grasp on Social Media. Maybe they have a grasp on Facebook or Twitter but being a Facebook user is a far cry from knowing the ins and outs of marketing with Social Media. That's like saying because my mother could make perfect slick dumplins I should be able to as well (I can't, by the way).

 

That being said, age has no correlation to maturity. Just watch the news.

"That being said, age has no correlation to maturity. Just watch the news."

You nailed it, Becky. I nearly stopped reading after that first point. If that doesn't scream ignorance and opinion, I don't know what does.

These two articles can be summed up very simply for employers looking for a social media manager: Vet them, make them PROVE they've been successful before with actual stats, reports, recommendations, etc. before hiring. Anything else and you're going on faith - a risk, I think.

I think both authors are actually making the same case - although they are each coming at it from a different perspective.  Hiring a social media manager should be about the skill set and mind set they bring to the table.  The original article warns about hiring a younger person solely because they have been raised interacting with social networks on a personal level. Both authors understand that it is more about understanding how to use the networks as a marketing tool to reach and speak to the audience a company is interested in.  Hiring managers should look past age -- whether looking at younger or older candidates -- and focus on people who are flexible, curious and willing to continue to learn what they need to learn to do the job.

Certainly the original article was overly broad and somewhat stereo-typed, how, ever my opinion, as a general rule of thumb, the article was on target. 

Having said that, my clients needing day-to-day social media engagement are regularly referred to a young lady (26 years old) who is brilliant, understands business, understands what is needed to be appropriately visible, and brings great success to these businesses. 

If there is anything I have learned in the past 50 years, it is that stereotypes are fairly accurate (and for a reason), and looking for the exception is always a challenge. There are brilliant, qualified and highly competent twenty somethings in the world and we need to seek them out and employ them in critical positions.