Cathryn Sloane wrote a blog post entitled, “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25″ on the NextGen Journal, which has stirred up a lot of conversation. I understand where she’s coming from, but I disagree with her conclusion. And that is, basically, companies should hire social media managers under 25 because they are most familiar with social media and, thus, know best how to use it.
Augie Ray, Executive Director of Community & Collaboration at USAA, responded to this, pointing back to a 2009 post he wrote exactly about this issue: ‘Caveat Emptor: Do You Know Enough to Buy or Hire Social Media Expertise?’ He has accurately articulated my own stance on the matter.
In addition to not making age central to the issue, I think it’s also important to point out that companies must stop looking for social media unicorns. I shared this thought via my FB page ‘Social Sense| Social Business’. Here’s what I wrote:
“I think we should focus more on why social media managers and social strategists should be hired because of their business acumen, social media skills, strategic and creative thinking, overall experience, and potential to shine — not their age, be it under or over 25.
Equally important to emphasise is that companies should stop searching for social media UNICORNS: someone who has 10 years of experience in social media campaigns, strategy, marketing, content strategy, community-building, oh, and throw in social analytics as well. They don’t want one individual, they want a whole department. This kind of thinking is detrimental to any social media professional, under 25 or over.
In my opinion, social media familiarity is the least important qualification. Knowledge and familiarity of the tech and tools should not be mutually exclusive to strategic thinking. I think the more important qualifications to consider when hiring a social media professional might not even have anything to do with technology. Listening skills, research and analysis, experience in UX or design thinking, editorial skills, concept development, involvement in participatory and transformational projects or change management, open leadership — these are areas that deserve our our attention when hiring social media professionals.”