A Lesson on Hiring a Social Media Manager from the Cathryn Sloane Firestorm
A couple weeks ago, a young blogger by the name of Cathryn Sloane took to the web to express her frustration in the fact that many job postings for social media managers called for five to ten years of experience. She went on to argue that people from her generation, the under-25 crowd, were actually more qualified than older folks to manage social media accounts for businesses because they grew up with Facebook, Twitter and the like.
This set off a massive firestorm of dramatically negative comments and responses from older social professionals, calling out Sloane for being ignorant, foolish or worse and launching the post into virality.
So who is right? Assuredly, the post was a bit short-sighted. It vastly discounted the talented, hard-working group of social pros over the age of 30 out there and made sweeping generalizations about the younger generation, which, despite growing up with social media, is full of people who are completely unsuited for its use from a business perspective.
Still, I’m far from alone in my sympathy for Sloane. As I mentioned before, she was probably frustrated when she wrote the story, which gave it a more aggressive tone and reduced her smart points to afterthoughts. The commenters were very hard on her, ignoring some of these smarter subtleties and doing quite a bit of generalizing themselves.
The way I see it, you need to have two things to be an effective social media manager: the know-how to market and appropriately represent the brand you’re working for and an acute, complete understanding of the social networks you’re using to so. For many young social media managers (myself included), a knowledge of social media came first and a knowledge of marketing came second. For many older social pros, it was the other way around.
If your prospective social media management team has the ability to both of these things well, should it matter how old they are? I don’t think so.