Social Media Managers; Does Age Matter? (cont.)

It’s been a while since Cathryn Sloane sparked the debate about the ideal age for a social media manager, after she claimed that no one over the age of 25 should be put in charge of social media. It’s apparently been long enough for people to not see the link between that article, and this one by marketing industry veteran Hollis Thomases.

In her article that was published on the Inc. blog, Thomases argues against hiring ‘the intern’ to manage your social media profiles. She’s so against the idea of allowing a university graduate to be given the title of social media manager, that she’s come up with 11 reasons this is a terrible idea.

This time, the comments were a little more divided, with some agreeing with her, and others dismissing her argument as discriminatory. How long will this ageism debate be allowed to continue? Both ends of the spectrum, from the fresh-faced graduates to the hardened industry veterans are both trying to stake their claim to being the “ideal” age for social media management. Surely this isn’t something that is determined by age, but by the skills an individual can bring to the table. Hence, age doesn’t matter, the individual does.

Thomases reasons for dismissing the average 24-year-old university graduate’s ability to manage a social media profile are all founded on sweeping generalisations and taken in a wider context could apply to anyone of any age.

She seems to be suggesting that it’s a matter of maturity, and the ability to communicate, which is something that no university class could teach. But she neglects to acknowledge that the majority of teaching and learning going on at university happens outside the lecture halls. Extra-curricular activities, part-time jobs and internships all provide ample experience that a young graduate can apply to a social media management role.

Lacking communication skills and the ability to convey subtlety, having no technical skills, and lacking crisis management skills are not problems that are determined by age. Which is why employers should be looking at the skills an individual can bring to the role, rather than the number of years since they graduated.

If anything, Thomases article is insulting to the business owners she is trying to speak to; how’s that for poor communication skills? She seems to be suggesting that business owners are too stunned by social media to be able to make sound business judgements – like who’s the best person for the job.

What do you think of this debate? Are people focussing too much on age, just for valuable link bait?