I chose this title because I want to address the question itself. Consider a few similar, notable (irritating) post titles:
- Why millennials should handle your social media – Lauren Rothering, 8.15.12
- 11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media – Hollis Thomases, 8.10.12
- Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25 – Cathryn Sloane, 7.20.12
Instead of talking about people as individuals and an organization’s social media as a unique mix of needs, tools, goals and resources, my title (and the others above) over-generalize in a way that defies any resulting thoughtful conversation.
Take these quotes, for example:
- “Millennials are creative.” (Rothering)
- “[Newly graduated interns] may not understand your business.” (Thomases)
- “… [People under 25] learned to use social media socially before professionally…” (Sloane)
My response to each of these?
The same is true of a bazillion other people, from preschoolers to pensioners, so can we drop the preconceived notions already?
What’s the right question?
It is this: “Who should handle your social media?”
I could wordsmith the question more (something speaking to strategy instead of “handle,” for example), but I’ll spare you. Because here’s the point:
It’s not about whether someone of XYZ demographic should handle something that fits under a broad definition of “social media.”
It’s about finding the person whose unique skills and experience match your unique social media goals and needs.
So what’s the answer? Who should handle your social media?
You know by now that I’m not going to give you a predefined answer on this, right? And that’s because in order to make any thoughtful recommendations about the skills, qualities or experience of the person who might be best suited to handle your social media, I’d need to know more about you.
To get to a place where you’re prepared to think about those specific skills, etc., here are some general questions about your social media efforts I would begin with (not an exhaustive list):
- What are your goals? (Social media, overall marketing & communications, business goals)
- What are you already doing with social media? How’s that going? If you haven’t dipped your toe into social media yet, why do you want to?
- What resources do you have to devote to your social media? (Budget, time, existing content resources, etc.) What are the skills and strengths of your existing marketing team or agency?
- What do you understand about social media? Is there more for you to learn? What is your level of comfort with it?
The answers to these questions should lead you closer to the questions that will help define your ideal social media manager. Some examples:
- How much experience does the qualified candidate need to have working toward your key goals?
- Does the qualified candidate need to have a certain type of understanding of a platform or tool, or a certain level of technical proficiency?
- How much and what type of content must the qualified candidate be able to create?
- How much responsibility or authority will you place in this role?
None of these questions are specifically about age. Some of the answers may tend to shift your candidate pool up or down in age range, but there are always, always outliers.
Are demographic groupings meaningless? No, of course not. Groups do tend to share some characteristics, and in some cases, it is beneficial to think about the behaviors and traits of groups. Just remember: you aren’t trusting your social media management to a group, you’re trusting it to an individual. So do the hard work to find, get to know and work with the right individuals – you’ll find your efforts far more successful for it.