Age Doesn’t Mean Jack in Social Media

Aged © by tonyhall

We like to think that we (sometimes) know it all. In this age of gurus, jedis, and ninjas, it is easy to have a sense of social entitlement. I’m sure you are thinking about a time you thought you were BMOC (Big Man on Campus). Maybe a blog post blew up; maybe you had a tweet shared by a celebrity.

On Friday, Cathryn Sloane had an article posted on NextGen Journal, titled, “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25.” Sloane, a recent graduate of the University of Iowa, writes.

You might argue that everyone, regardless of age, was along for the ride, or at least everyone under the age of 30.  I’m not saying they weren’t, but we spent our adolescence growing up with social media.  We were around long enough to see how life worked without it but had it thrown upon us at an age where the ways to make the best/correct use of it came most naturally to us.  No one else will ever be able to have as clear an understanding of these services, no matter how much they may think they do.”

Ah, to be youthful, ambitious, and cocky. One of the knocks on 20-somethings are that they act entitled. They expect everything to be handed to them and think they can do anything. Now, I don’t necessarily agree with the entitlement label because I’ve seen a ton of great, young and talented folks. They’ve busted their tails to be the best they can be and they take nothing for granted.

Ms. Sloane’s statement that no one older than 25 will ever be able to have as clear an understanding of social media, no matter how much they may think they do is about as wrong as you could be. Just because you grew up with Facebook doesn’t mean you know how to engage, listen and analyze it.

I’m a community manager for several social media profiles and over 35 years old. Am I unqualified? I don’t believe so. Experience is key today, especially in crisis situations.

Last Friday, we awoke to the horrific news of the theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado. A dozen people (as of this writing) were killed at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” the last in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. To show that we still need qualified people at the helm of social profiles and as community managers, two brands made serious mistakes on Friday.

The American Rifleman Twitter account said, “Good morning Shooters! Happy Friday. Weekend plans?” It was posted at 9:20 a.m. Major, major scheduled tweet error. Later in the day the Twitter account for Celeb Boutique posted: “#Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress 😉 Shop:” Celeb Boutique faced an incredible tweet backlash, which you can easily see by doing a Google search for Celeb Boutique. They offered an apology, saying their PR is not bases in the U.S. and, therefore, unaware of what Aurora meant.

Both of these examples show that, regardless of age, you need to be smart, not cocky, in being a community manager (and PR pro).

One last point on Ms. Sloane, I took the liberty of viewing her Twitter page, just to see if I was off base. Knowing the criticism her post made, I thought she would at least address some of those that tweeted at her. She didn’t. If you are going to turn on the grill, you better be able to take the heat.

That’s the mature and professional thing to do.

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