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In Response: Cathryn Sloane’s Social Media Article

This afternoon I was perusing my Twitter feed when I came across Noah Malin’s  Paper-li The Social Media Thinkers Daily.  This is also where I discovered Cathryn Sloane’s post titled: Why Every Social Media Manager Should be Under 25.  Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25

Ugh.

Like so many others, after I read it I tweeted to Cathryn – that she had effectively proven that her post articulates exactly why social mediamanagers should be over 25.  Here’s my tweet:

@cathrynsloane25 You've successfully proven why every social media manager should NOT be under 25

I’ll be candid – her post annoyed me.  It annoyed me so much that I had to re-write the tweet so that I wasn’t too aggressive toward her.  I get it, we all make mistakes, and we were all young once. But I want to try to shed some light on why I was so annoyed by the post, and why I’m sure many of my peers were annoyed as well.  Let me first start by saying that I’m not writing this to pick a fight with Cathryn, I commend her for offering her opinion. I do hope she reads this and tries to understand why she has ignited such vitriol.

Cathryn,

Personally I’ve been in digital media since early 2000.  When I say “in” digital media, I mean that over the past 12 years or so I’ve been gainfully employed, and making a living in the digital space.  I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology (97) and a Masters Degree in Direct Marketing (99). I’ve left digital for 3 yrs in between where I worked at a design agency.   I’ve sold third party ad serving technology (Valueclick‘s Mediaplex), email software (Responsys) , social media software (Buddy Media). I’ve written a book on social media, I lecture on social media,  and I run a social media marketing firm.  So Cathryn, that makes me qualified to be a social media manager, not you.

I’d assume that this is at the core of the hateful repsonses to your post.  While I’m sure you didn’t intend it, you’ve insulted many people who make good livings in social media, and who have a great grasp on social media not because they grew up with Facebook like you point out, but because (like me) they have seen social media before it was even termed social media. Because like me they saw the impact of digital media in the world around them when the internet was just starting. They saw the dot.com bubble and survived it.  All of this, all of the technology before you were on Facebook is what makes Facebook so powerful. Because we understand that, we understand how the entire ecosystem works. We know why a Facebook page works the way it does because we sold software that powered the first brand iterations of these pages – while you were playing Angry Birds – we were the ones building those Apps.  We have the understanding and know how.  We’ve worked at Ad Agencies and understand the psychology behind Pinterest, and why it works in this current ecosystem. We have a deeper understanding of these networks. You don’t.  Plain and simple.  Your logic regarding why you’re qualified is flawed, and offensive to those of us who have a better understanding of the inner workings of social media – on a sociological, pyshcological, technological and marketing level than you.  I grew up playing Atari – this doesn’t make me qualified to design video games.

Now onto the other point you make which was just a tad offensive. The reason why employers say that a social media manager should have 5 years of experience is because they should.

So when you say:

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.

You have effectively proven why they should never let someone younger than 25 to manage their social media.  Here’s why: You have no understanding of the gravity of this role. You have also insulted every single company who is forward thinking enough to have potentially hired someone like yourself who has just graduated from college and who thinks they’re a social media expert. So when you ask – what’s all the fuss about – understand this:  There are business out there who are conducting sophisticated social media programs with extensive social medias strategy that extend far beyond a Facebook post, or tweet.  Because you don’t understand that is exactly why they won’t ever hire you to mange their social media. The person they want is older, more mature, and more battle worn and they would have understood the media storm that you have just created.  They would have thought before they hit send. They would have the self awareness, that you have so shown that you don’t.

This whole thing upsets me even more because I’ve met your peers and they’re awesome, and I bet they’d be a little miffed by your post as well.  I have interacted with recent college graduates and students alike as I lecture around the country speaking to them about how to leverage social media to gain employment. They don’t all act with such entitlement. They don’t all think that they should be handed jobs.  They work hard, and they have earned my respect. So much so that I’ve included some of them in my book. Your post has done them, and frankly your generation a disservice. You set them back by essentially mocking the hiring managers request that you have 5 years experience.  Social media is too important to put into your hands Cathryn.  Companies can’t afford to be caught in a media storm like the one you’ve just unintentionally created.  Just look at my post from yesterdays horrible debacle from CelebBoutique.

Cathryn, I hope you see the logic in this post, and I truly hope you don’t see it as an attack. I hope you see it as it was intended – as an explanation regarding the vitriol.  I was personally offended by some of the comments you made, but I also understand them. I had the same thoughts when I was your age. I was lucky enough to have my Father as my mentor to sit me down and slowly, and elegantly explain to me why I would never make $60k a year in my first job out of college.  That no matter how smart or qualified I thought I was, I still had to live life, and gain the respect of my peers. You’re not there yet, but I suspect that you’ll be there soon enough. You’ll survive this because like I did when I was your age, you’ll learn that you’re not the center of the universe. You’ll realize that those dolts writing those job descriptions actually have an idea about who to hire and why.  It’s a new world for sure, but don’t ever mistake youth for qualification. It’s up to you now to learn from this.  I’m sure you will, and I’m happy to sit with you and explain this in greater detail. You’ve obviously struck a chord.

Phew.

Chris Dessi