Cathryn Sloane, a 2012 graduate of the University of Iowa, recently wrote a pretty juicy post about why Social Media managers for companies should be under 25 years old. The foundation of her thesis was that the under 25 age group grew up with things like Twitter and Facebook and therefor have some innate understanding of what social media is really about.
It got a lot of play on Facebook and Twitter (it should have, she sounded to be auditioning for a job) and certainly made the rounds to anyone in the social media space paying attention to more than their own brand.
Being a social media manager of sorts for ActiveRain, and being the ripe old age of 35........I felt the need to respond. So here are my ten reasons why all social media managers should be at least 30.
1. There are no incriminating photos, status updates or comments from me on the internet. (OK, this might not be entirely true, but let's run with it) Even though I was using the internet in 1993 (remember Compuserve? I know you don't if you are under 25, so don't even lie about it). By the time something I posted on the internet had the potential to spread world wide I was smart enough to know that my next boss might not be as impressed with my keg stand as the 50 people standing around the keg chanting were.
2. My life is made up of more experiences than high school and college. Now don't get me wrong, I learned a ton in high school and college. In fact, I think high school was the pinnacle of my brain's capacity to take in useless information. You should see me at Jeopardy. And college? Couldn't have been a better environment to develop my social education. But since then, 13 years later, I've been in the business world, I've connected with thousands of people that have shared their life experiences with me and I've learned more about what really matters then most 25 year olds even realize they need to learn.
3. Speaking of knowing what I don't know. I now know I don't know it all. At 24......HA! I was a classic know it all. Too dumb to know what I didn't know. Surrounding yourself with smart people and allowing their penchant (and I've learned a few big words! ha!) for learning to rub off on you is one of the best ways to realize you don't know it all. When you were 23, how many smart people did you surround yourself with?
4. I lived a real social existence before I could create a fake one online. I hate to tell you this under 25er, but you don't have 578 friends (and you darn sure don't have 3124) no matter what Facebook tells you. I used to have to pick up the phone and call my friends, or gasp, go see them in person. Is it better or worse to understand the basic tenets of something before applying those things online?
5. I know how to actually speak to people.......IRL (and I know enough short hand text messaging to be dangerous! ha!). We've built a pretty vibrant community here at ActiveRain. Want to know how the real heavy lifting was done? Picking up the phone and actually calling someone. As an under 25er, you probably don't realize how much gets lost in translation with the written word. Your :-) at the end might not have come across as a joke to the person reading it. Eventually to be a real social media manager you're going to have to talk to people.....and you won't be able to say 'dude', or 'like', or 'umm' every third word.
6. I never do anything dumb (OK, that's just ridiculous)
7. I don't live in my mom's basement. This one is really just a low blow. I'm not sure if it would matter one way or the other whether I live in mom's basement or not. But part of not living in mom's basement means I have all the coolest toys to participate in social media and I don't have to worry about mom and dad deciding they aren't going to foot the cell phone bill any longer. When I go to all the fun real estate conferences, I can pick up the tab if I have to and endear myself to all the other fun social media people that will go out and say how awesome I am.
8. I've learned over 10 years in the real estate business, the last 5 actually running a social network, how to deal with really unhappy people. Any brand worth its weight is going to have people online that want nothing more than to see your logo go up in flames like Chernobyl (look it up, it happened the year before you were born). What are you going to do when those people say the most vial and nasty things about the company you love? There is an art to putting someone in their place online and it's something you learn from experience. And guess what.....when you write something that really gets under people's skin, you have to step up and face the music. You can't just disappear from the conversation.
9. People in their 20's are highly unpredictable. You might even know this about yourself, but it's true. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, but if your friends come calling at 8pm with awesome tickets to Rihanna concert tonight, are you going to be able to turn down the offer because you have an 8am meeting the next day? I never turned down one of those calls in my 20's. I've never accepted one in my 30's.......because I'm old, boring and married.......but extremely predictable.
10. I learned that top ten lists are a great way to get people to read your stuff. I could have just used paragraphs and been all journalistic, because that's what I learned in college, but I've been around a little bit and everything you learn in college can be found in a library......there is no substitute for the real world.
Welcome to the real world.
So there it is, eight reasons why all social media managers should be at least 30.........but never over 40! (haha! That was a shot at my friends Brad and Jay, the old geezers running things over at Zillow)
If you'd like to watch and listen to Kerrie and me duke it out with Eric, the under 25 social media manager of RealEstate.com, on this topic and a few others you can join us for a Google+ hangout on Thursday.