What an amusing idea Cathryn Sloane puts forth in her post Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25. At first blush, it seemed like a little fun at the older generation’s expense, but then I thought about how competitive the hiring market is right now, especially for recent college grads. There’s no shortage of articles right now on how many take even unpaid internships just to get some real-life experience while they look for paying jobs. Yeah, at first, it might have been a little jab coupled with a veiled plea to put young people to work, but then it seemed to digress into simply a bashing of older people, you know, the people that made the Internet. Look, just because Mark Zuckerberg was wet behind the ears when Facebook exploded doesn’t mean Millennials are better suited for social media management or that they have a better grasp of technology. I can point to numerous young people that don’t even know how to use basic computer programs or critical phone apps, let alone expertly manage social media for a company. The fact is while they may have grown up on a diet of some varieties of social media, they are just as poor at handling things there as anyone else, regardless of age.” I do Facebook” just doesn’t cut it.
The fact is that while these young people were in utero or diapers, the rest of us were already using the precursors to social media, sans the cutesy packages, plus well into our careers
doing all kinds of stuff on the WWW. Remember antiques like IRC, BBS, UseNet, and those kooky Chat Rooms? Alex Knapp does. Most of the time we didn’t even have a clue what the other person looked like and had to wait for…wait for it…snail mail to show up with an envelope with a picture of a person! Do you know how we did search before Google? With giant books that had tons of long, long links we had to type in. Yeah, saying Millenials are better at social is like saying infants are better at crapping their pants, because, well, they do it all the time. We’ve been there, done that, moved on to bigger and better things, oh, and prettied things up along the way so being social is easier and more fun than it was when we were your age.
The fact is us “oldies” were all social in IRL (in real life, for the realllly old) before we were social online, and you know what that means? We’re not as awkward, don’t have to hide behind handles and have a better grip on the business use of these kinds of tools. Do some older people and crotchety-type businesses blow it? Oh yeah, all the time. But I’ve also seen Millennials blow it, too. Do not blame a generation gap on this. Some people are not cut out for the social sphere IRL or online.
The point is no age group is more suited for this than another. Instead, the point is if you’re looking to move a strategy forward for a business, finesse, experience, a service-minded attitude, and a good grasp of modern business concepts, grammar, language, and self-discipline will trump a tender young pup with nothing more than youthful vigor any time, any day. After all, someone has to lead, teach, bring in business, and write the paychecks. My money is on the people that keep thirsting, learning, and growing in knowledge, not the ones that think their age (plus or minus) is the defining element that makes them a better fit in social. No. You have a long way to go before you prove your value to me, and seriously, you’re just not there yet.