social media

Under 25 – Then You Must Be A Social Media Expert

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social mediaIs managing social media best left to the under 25s? According to an article written by Cathryn Sloane in the NextGen Journal, people under 25 have grown up with social media and best equipped to utilise its potential.  Boy, did she open up a can of worms. Soon after the article appeared just about everyone over 25 working in social media were spitting vitriolic comments her way. The hapless Carthryn was accused of being ageist, dumb, ill-informed, naïve and other names best not mentioned in polite company. However, the question remains. Is she right?

Currently, the two most popular social media platforms are Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is used to share, comment, socialise and interact online. Twitter mostly follows trends. Tumblr is another social media tool gaining popularity as is Pinterest. These tools are also effectively used by some corporations to drive traffic to their website.

Carolyn’s argument is that the under 25s make better social media managers than older workers. However, job advertisements for these positions require 5 to 10 years experience. She argues that nobody has this experience yet because the tools are too new but that her generation are intuitive social media users and therefore more proficient.

On the surface, her argument appears to make sense. After all, we’ve all seen older people struggle to adopt new technology. On deeper reflection though, Cathryn’s argument makes little sense. Essentially, she asserts that having access to the tools from a young age makes you an expert. However, I don’t think it makes you a better communicator. Otherwise, each time we had a technological breakthrough it would be generation based.  When I was 15, I played popular arcade games with friends. Yet I’m not a games expert. Far from it. The same with email. I used email extensively before I was 25 to communicate but I’ve never used it to write fancy html coded newsletters to promote my message.

Social media is merely the latest tool used to distribute information to the largest number of people. The message is the medium is an oft quoted saying. A social media manager must produce from within the cluttered realm of cyberspace something people will tweet, post and upload.  Communication requires more than the tool, it requires a message. Tools change over time and can be taught. The talent required to send a unique message requires skill irrelevant of age.

Also, Cathryn has made the assumption that we learn best when we are young. However, research into the brain has discovered that it rewires itself throughout our lives and capable of learning new information. Our brains are not set like concrete after 25, as was previously thought, but are malleable and adaptable.

Furthermore, research into social media found that 60% of users are mums. Assuming that most women have children after 25 this means an awful lot of midlife women are engaged in the digital space. Mums share information about brands, movies, tv and books that is so influential marketing departments are desperate to reach them. If I was an employer wanting to reach mums, I’d want women with children, not the under 25s, to manage my social media.

At the end of the day, Cathryn’s assumptions about the under 25s reminds me of the popular 60s slogan. The hippie mantra was not to trust anyone over 30. That mantra disappeared when the hippies got older. Tweet that if you can to the under 25s.

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Related Post: The Technology Myth

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Author: Sue Bell
Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

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