I MIGHT BE too senior for social media, especially if you believe every social media manager should be under 25.
I'm the inverse of 25, making me well outside of the cohort Cathryn Sloane would trust to manage online conversations. I encounter urban slang, Cork-speak and German contractions that confuse me in my Twitterstream. I totally miss some of the innuendos shared on my daughters' Facebook timelines. Like Sloane the newly-minted graduate would suggest, it might be time to recognise who is best-suited to put their oars into managing social media for business.
I like the cross-talk Cathryn Sloane has generated on Forbes, Twitter, and Google Plus. Her premise that companies looking to hire Social Media Managers should look to her generation since "they’re naturally better at it because they grew up with it" resonates with me because I'm a generation removed. I'm prone to senior moments on social media. I need a crossing guard before walking into revered spaces in the shadows of those who have marked out social networks as their special allotments. Unfortunately for me (and for those in the Sloane camp), I don't restrict my advice by the age (nationality or gender) of the sage.
Social media "success" in our information-rich, technological era means more than effective communications. It means more than choosing the right tool for the correct channel. It means more than quickly moving a raw count of numbers off the scale. During my first online social network, one connecting work centres in underground bunkers on three continents in the 80s, I learned to value intellectual dexterity, the ability to work beyond the book, a proven record for using nuanced messages, and a sense of compromise that ensured real collaboration sustained the network. This happened at the speed of light before Mark Zuckerberg's Harvard campus had email. I used my social networking skillset to save lives, to prevent international incidents and to move high priority items from one country to another.
Where I work, we train university students with skills in social media for business. When our graduates head into the marketplace, they know it's not their degree that will get them hired. They know it's samples of their work, their get-it-done demeanour and their personalities. Because if Cathryn Sloane or any of our twentysomething graduates wants to make it as a social media expert, they need to be able to ensure their strategies and tactics get accepted and endorsed by the C-Suite. Inside that managerial circle--the place where campaigns are endorsed and funded--people may listen to a 25-year-old but only if that professional can do more than say, "I grew up with Facebook." A lot of people I know in the C-Suite have spent more time getting real results in the bulletin boards, internet relay chats and proprietary forums long before Zuck thought about The Facebook.
In fact, I'm too senior to actually remember the names of some of the spaces my avatar and nic once ruled. That might make me too senior for today's flavour of hipster social media.
Mark Story -- "Dear NextGen Journal: A Rebuttal from Social Media Old Folks" in Next Gen Journal, July 22, 2012.
Kelly Knapp -- "Can Only Millenials Handle Your Social Media?" in Forbes, July 24, 2012.
Connor Toohill -- "On the Controversy: Cathryn Sloane's Social Media Article" in Next Gen Journal, July 21, 2012
Bernie Goldbach curates links about social media.