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Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25

by Cathryn Sloane | University of Iowa

F Posted in: News and Politics, Voices P Posted on: July 20, 2012
Cathryn Sloane Cathryn Sloane

Facebook began in 2004. Twitter kicked off in 2006. I, along with everyone else in my generation, can remember exactly who told me about these endeavors, the perfect combination of confusion and excitement I felt when signing up for them, and the original layouts they exhibited. We were teenagers in high school at the time, a period when we were young enough to be the most impressionable yet old enough to grasp an understanding. Though we had absolutely no idea how insanely huge social media would grow, we were immediately along for the ride.

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.

The key is that we learned to use social media socially before professionally, rather than vice versa or simultaneously. After all, it is called social media; the seemingly obvious importance of incorporating comforting social aspects into professional usage seems to go over several companies’ heads. To many people in the generations above us, Facebook and Twitter are just the latest ways of getting messages out there to the public, that also happen to be the best.

The specificity of the ways in which the method should be used is usually beyond them, however. The typically tired commercial statements or aggressively slang-imitating phrases companies tend to use on their sites do not match the witty, honest, energetic atmosphere these social media outlets offer.

The truth is, regardless of age, some people have a better handle on social media than others. But every generation has changes in history that define them, and social media happens to be one of those for mine. I do commend the way companies (and basically the entire population) have jumped on the social media bandwagon and recognized that it is the best way to connect with people nowadays. Yet, every time I see a job posting for a Social Media Manager/Associate/etc. and find the employer is looking for five to ten years of direct experience, I wonder why they don’t realize the candidates who are in fact best suited for the position actually aren’t old enough to have that much experience.

As time has gone on, the age groups jumping onto these sites have gradually grown older – and frightfully younger as well. Sixth-graders who are now creating their Facebook profiles know nothing other than Timeline, and adults in their 40’s who are tweeting with their iPhone apps have no idea that the old way to do it was by texting 40404. The mere fact that my generation has been up close and personal with all these developments over the years should make clear enough that we are the ones who can best predict, execute, and utilize the finest developments to come.

ALSO: A response from NGJ’s top Editors; AND Dear NextGen: A Rebuttal From the Social Media Old Folks

Cathryn Sloane Cathryn Sloane Cathryn Sloane is a '12 graduate from The University of Iowa with a B.A. in English and a concentration in Creative Nonfiction Writing. She hails from St. Louis, Missouri and has also written for USA TODAY College.

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