by Jeanine Vecchiarelli return to JayVee Media Link LLC
A social media firestorm was set off last week, when Cathryn Sloane of the University of Iowa posted in NextGen Journal her declaration that only people under the age of 25 were properly qualified to work in the field. The premise upon which she based her claim was that, because her generation was the “right” age when platforms such as Facebook and Twitter began, and hence she and her peers grew up with them, their knowledge of the social media sites’ operations made them more qualified than any other generation to use them for social media marketing.
Reaction to Ms. Sloane’s assertion has been swift and unrelenting. Much of it hasn’t been very nice. I think we need to cut her some slack for her inexperience in all life areas OUTSIDE of social media, and acknowledge that she does make some good points.
It is hugely beneficial when marketers have an intimate knowledge of the tools at their disposal as they ply their trade. When it comes to platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, etc., the undisputed champions are indeed those members of Ms. Sloane’s generation. They have an inherent knowledge of virtually every aspect of the sites’ functionality, and they are quick to grasp and make optimal use of the changes that are continuously rolling out. However, understanding a tool’s functionality doesn’t necessarily impart knowledge of how to best apply it as a situation demands. As one commenter wisely stated, “I am a great driver; I know how to use my car better than most people do. Does that mean I am qualified to run the car company?”
I also agree that the people who comprise Ms. Sloane’s generation have unparalleled experience with using social media to be social…a fundamental concept of social media marketing that often eludes more seasoned marketers. But what these young computer whizzes may lack is training in marketing techniques and applications, including elements such as timing, wording, and response etiquette, as well as the keen insights that only come from years of experience.
With all factors taken into account, I believe the best answer is a social media company that balances BOTH demographics, making optimal use of the best that each has to offer.
What is your response to Ms. Sloane’s assertion? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!