I recently read the article Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25 by Catherine Sloane. Catherine, a recent grad from the University of Iowa, argues that because those of us in our young twenties were in high school when social media sites like Facebook and Twitter began, we therefore understand the best and most “natural” way to use them. Unfortunately for Catherine, she has found that most social media manager positions on her job hunt require 5-10 years of experience. She thinks this is unfair and believes “candidates who are in fact best suited for the position actually aren’t old enough to have that much experience.”
There are many things wrong with this article. One of the glaring issues is that Catherine is essentially promoting ageism, a discriminatory practice that is never allowed in the workplace. Why she would publish a piece like this while on the job hunt, presumably for a social media position, is beyond me. Any employer that googles her name in the future will be able to find this piece. I hope, for her sake, that she takes some time to reflect on the feedback she’s receiving and follows up with a response article soon.
As a social media manager that’s one year away from aging out of Catherine’s “under 25” age requirement, I do think there is a lot of learning to be done from the ignorance in this post. I understand that it can be frustrating to learn that most social media/online marketing jobs want years of experience when you have none. I’ve been there! The job hunt can leave you confused and discouraged, but I find it helpful to remember that you only need one yes to turn things around.
Managing social media for a company is not like managing your own personal Facebook page. When managing a company’s social media you are not writing in the same way you’d write to personal friends. Instead, you’re catering to a specific audience, developing a tone for the company, and integrating SEO strategies into every blog post, tweet, or Facebook update. I think it’s safe to say that you’re not going to get any type of social media position by ignorantly assuming that you’re an “expert” because you use social media for personal use.
If you want to break into the social media industry with no experience, try contacting local nonprofits and offer your services for free, start your own blog and promote it, or seek out small paid freelance gigs. Social media internships another great way to get your foot in the door if you’re still in college or can afford to work part-time for little or no salary.
One of the best things about social media is that it allows us to connect with our favorite brands, bloggers, media outlets, and public figures in a way that was never possible before. You never know who could be reading your next tweet or blog post! So let’s learn from the backlash Catherine has received, and remember three important things:
1. It’s not productive to spend time feeling entitled when it comes to the job hunt.
2. Work to make your own opportunities
3. Always think twice before hitting “publish”! You never know you will read your next blog
P.S. We are still getting settled here in Austin, but expect regular blog posts to be coming your way in the near future!