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Is there Ageism in Social Media?

by Michelle Murray

Can a 40-year old be a Social Media Manager?

Recently, I heard from a colleague that’s it’s better to hire a young social media manager because they have their finger more solidly on the pulse of the tech world and that older people (people 30 years and older), should not have opportunity in these roles because they are unable to relate to the younger generation and what they are looking for from the current trends and brands.

I literally spun my head around like Linda Blair at this comment. Was this person saying that experience in the work field was a negative when hiring an individual to run their social media?  That a perky kid or hipster was better at analyzing algorithms and trends because they were born the year I graduated high school?

Ageism is real

Ageism exists in every job, we’ve seen it.  News anchors fired because they’ve lost sex appeal, individuals hired because they can party, live hard, and can have fun; but in a world as new as social media and online marketing, can this be happening already?

Is an industry that has existed for only nine years started to weed out the old?  What’s going to happen when the CEO’s of Google and Yahoo hit 40?  Will they be given a pension and sent out to pasture?

We’ve all been exposed to social media for the same length of time, some people have adapted social platform concepts earlier and more aggressively than others, however, it doesn’t mean that one person is more apt to suit because of their age.

It’s important to realize that an individual who is interested in ROI, marketing a business or online engagement, no matter what age will be interested in the overall research and study needed to be effective in the line of work they chose.

I mean seriously – a perky and cute 23 year girl can post information on Facebook and Twitter as easily as a 45 year old woman – the difference? Perhaps a finger on the pulse of social trends may give the 23 year a lean leg up, but years of analyzing business trends and in the belly of the beast work experience should far outweigh that fact.

One article I tracked down talked about how all social media mangers should be under the age of 25.

“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.” – Cathryn Sloane source: NextGen Journal

Sure – I could grant her the fact that when I was in high school, I was taking typing as opposed to coding or learning computers – I may not have owned my first cell phone until I was 23 because they didn’t really exist before then, but that doesn’t mean I am too old to be a social media manager.

Social Media, while it is a force in and of itself, still slides into the mold of simple marketing.  Knowing your customer base, and what they want.  The ability to combine traditional with social media marketing is key.  To understand trends– not how they are happening, but how they also occurred can often be a valuable asset to any strategy.

There are many components to becoming a successful social media manger, and sure while some of them simply exhaust me (because I’m an old geezer at 40), the root and core of being successful for whoever you are representing still boils down to experience. You cannot perform any job well, unless you have a core understanding of all the fundamentals attached to it.

What I think

It is my belief, that Social Media Managers, Community Managers can be any age.  Sure, it sounds like I’m playing passive in my argument; however there is a lot of truth to it.

The world of social media came along when I was 34 – too old by Cathryn’s standards to fully understand what’s happening, but I worked just as hard as some of those young whippersnappers out there.  I studied, and compared past trends, and most importantly I research constantly, and while I may never have a degree in social media (because I’m sure there will be some of those some days) – I have measurable success, and years – yes years of experience in combined marketing.

It’s interesting you know?  Cathryn has basically stated she will be too old in roughly four years time to work in social media – and has welcomed in the next generation behind her, so that they can sweep her under in to the prehistoric category along with the rest of us.

What are your thoughts?  Should a social media professional be under the age of 30?

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