I recently was sent an article called “11 Reasons Why a 23-year-old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media.” I have told my clients this dozens of times, but was thrilled to see something in writing in one of my favorite business outlets. But, one thing I believe in is that there is a sweet spot for a social media guru. This means that while a 23-year-old isn’t your best bet, most 45+ year-olds aren’t either.

I’m going to start off with my favorite quote from the article, “Just because you don’t understand social media doesn’t mean you should forfeit all common sense and hire your niece, nephew, or any other recent college grad (say, your best friend’s sister-in-law’s kid) because “they’re really good on Facebook.” It’s like the writer, Hollis Thomases, and I are sharing the same brain!

Below you’ll find INC’s 11 reasons why a 23-year-old shouldn’t run your social media and my 11 reasons why someone over the age of 45 shouldn’t either. Again, this doesn’t mean that people of any age can’t run social media, it just means you have to find the right person for your brand. Those who are willing to put in the time, stay up-to-speed with all that is relevant in the social media world, and those who are dedicated to the brand and company will succeed! But, I do believe there is a sweet spot – someone who is a seasoned communicator, is social-media savvy, and has been in the corporate world who can make your social-media campaign a success while putting your mind at ease that your brand is in capable hands.

1. They’re not mature enough. Compared with young people 50 years ago, who were eager to enter adulthood and settle down, today’s youth are not only not eager to do so, but most do not feel that they’ve reached adulthood until late into their 20s or early 30s, according to research from Clark University. Instead, they tend to feel unstable and self-focused and would rather explore who they are and how they can transform their lives. This is great for them but not so great for you, their employer–particularly because social media is all about communicating with your audience in mature and accountable ways.

45+ – They’re too mature. An older generation remembers what it means to pay your dues, fax things out, and write things down. Technology is moving fast and many people in this generation got on the train too late and are still playing catch up. The key to a successful social-media campaign is knowing the ins and outs of all of the social networks and communities. Pintrest isn’t just for recipes and crafts and Instagram isn’t just so your pictures look better. There is a method behind the madness.

2. They may be focused on their own social-media activity. Because of the above, if you hire a young person to manage your social media, you may also need to need to worry about how he or she is actually spending his or her time. Will you need to be monitoring the person?

45+ – They may not think social-media is worth focusing on. I have found the exact opposite problem with older people. Many don’t truly grasp the importance of social-media and therefore look at is as a “nice to have” not a “have to have.” The less time spent on social-media, the less people you are reaching as a brand.

3. They may not have the same etiquette–or experience. Your recent college grad may have experience with Facebook and Instagram, but make sure you check out the substance of his or her updates and posts. You need to make sure your posts reflect your brand–and that you don’t wind up with a late-night smartphone photo landing in the wrong account. At the very least, ensure you have a social-media policy in place.

45+ – They may not have the same etiquette–or experience. This goes for any age. Posts always need to reflect the brand, not the person running the social networks. (My #1 pet peeve from several brands I follow is that they don’t “know” their audience and are posting as a person, not the company.)

4. You can’t control their friends. This isn’t exclusive to recent grads, of course, but it’s a risk to consider: Even if you hire a real winner, be sure that his or her friends won’t post inappropriate content to your company’s social-media accounts.

45+ – You can’t control them (or their friends!). People of a certain generation tend to forget that EVERYONE can see what they write on Facebook and there are a TON of websites with some amazing examples. Here’s your giggle for today!

5. No class can replace on-the-job training. Social media for business is really so many things wrapped into one: marketing, customer service, public relations, crisis management, branding. How deep is the experience of a young person in delivering any of these things?

45+ – No class can replace on-the-job training. While many people of this generation are familiar with Facebook and Twitter, are they in the know of what is the latest and great in social-media? Do they know the new “rules” on Facebook and how they will effect your brand? Just because you blog doesn’t mean you know anything about social-media and how to grow a customer base online. For all of you wanting to learn out there, Mashable is a great place to start!

6. They may not understand your business. You are handing the keys to your social-media kingdom to a newcomer, but there’s plenty that he or she needs to understand beyond the social tools themselves. What are the nuances of your products or services? What makes you stand out in the marketplace? What are the typical expectations of your customers? How do you troubleshoot issues or cajole customers into working a bit more with you? What does your company stand for? No new hire will be able to absorb these issues overnight, of course–but a brand-new graduate will have an even steeper learning curve.

45+ – They may understand your business, but not how to translate it. You might have a great employee who knows your brand through and through and can sell it to anyone, but can they communicate this to your customers in 140 characters or less? Knowing HOW to use effectively Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pintrest, Tumblr, etc. are just half the battle.

7. Communication skills are critical. Communication is critical to solid social-media execution. Before you let a young hire take over your company blog posts, take stock of his or her writing skills. Also: Many young people have not yet learned the “art” of communicating. Make sure they know how to read between the lines, rather than taking things too literally.

45+ – Communication skills are critical. Again, this goes for any age, but it stands for repeating… KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE! The first step to communicating positively is to listen.

8. Humor is tricky business. People like to be entertained, on social media as well as elsewhere. Will a young hire understand the boundaries of humor and entertainment appropriate to your target audience, or could your audience wind up being offended?

45+ – Humor is tricky business. What one person finds funny, isn’t always going to be what everyone else finds funny. There is a lot of trial and error that goes hand-in-hand with social-media. So, listen to your fans/audience and know when humor is appropriate and when it is not. Several large corporations have gotten in trouble for this and I doubt all of them had a 23-year-old intern running their social-media.

9. Social-media savvy is not the same as technical savvy. Good social media requires a combination of both. Successful social-media management involves production requirements, tools, analytics, and other aspects of work.

45+ – Social-media savvy is not the same as technical savvy. This is my number one reason why some people shouldn’t be tasked with social-media. Social-media is a communications tool, but it also involves a ton of analytics, strategy and thought. Just because you have the latest smart phone, tablet and computer, doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing when you’re posting on behalf of a brand to 100,000+ fans and followers.

10. Social-media management can become crisis management. The real-time nature of social media can quickly turn fun engagement and conversation into a public relations disaster, especially if the person behind the wheel isn’t thinking a few steps ahead. Are you really willing to take that risk?

45+ – Social-media management can become crisis management. This is one of the times when a more seasoned communications professional can be a huge asset. But, again, you also need a strategy behind crisis management. What people tend to forget is that once something is posted on a social network it’s posted. Even if it is taken down seconds later, someone most likely got a screen grab, and your instinct to jump on the problem just got worse.

11. You need to keep the keys. If you do go ahead and hire a new grad, make sure he or she sets up the social-media accounts using your company’s email and shares the passwords with you. Otherwise, you could wind up with no access to these social-media accounts–and no way to take them over.

45+ – You need to keep the keys. This goes without saying! All of the login info for any corporate social-media sites should be in one document that is easily accessible to the powers that be. People can do stupid, vindictive things at any age.

Something to consider, one corporate company that I like and respect has a team of people posting on its social-media sites. This has forced the team to become one, post as the brand and not as individuals, and takes the pressure off of one person. With the role social-media plays in corporate branding today, a team can help alleviate any stress should someone call in sick, makes more than one party responsible for strategy, posting, etc., and shares the workload. So many people think, “Oh, I’ll just post something on Facebook today and tweet a couple times.” That is just dabbling in social-media. If you’re going to get in the pool, dive in.

Posted on August 15, 2012   |   Filed under: Social Media  |  Tags: , , , ,
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