And this is why no one can find good social media help.

God bless the dear girl in her mid 20s, who recently wrote an article entitled “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25”. Ridiculous, and probably encouraged by nextgen Journal to fuel a debate at the expense of her future career.

Someone under 25 growing up with social media doesn’t have a better inkling because they experienced social in a social-only context. They might know how to use the platforms as an individual, speaking to their already engaged audience of friends and friends of friends. They will certainly have a harder time building engaged audiences where most only follow the page to get a better deal. Don’t forget about the possibility that any one of these followers may decide to air their grievances publicly. I’m not so sure the less experienced would know how to deal with tumbleweeds or with the more tense situations.

Her other core point seems to be that marketers don’t understand how to incorporate the sensitivities of a more social voice into their messages.  From my experience, marketers in general don’t know how to take their marketing hat off! There is a struggle to maintain a less corporate voice because the new way of doing things, being more transparent and open, is overshadowed by the need to get that message out there in one fell swoop. Being social is incorporating a way of thinking where you attempt to create opportunities to talk with your audiences that move towards  business goals because you’re being helpful and focused on your audience, and less on the straight one way marketing messages.

This reflects a much larger problem in finding good talent. It appears anyone who has a Facebook page or Twitter account thinks they know how to manage a brand strategy.  Working within the social industry requires much more than just crafting posts or having a social edge. You have to be the type of person with a multitude of skills. The Core of 4 is how I identify potential talent.

Tenacity to adapt to change

Social moves fast. New technologies and features come out all the time. Social professionals need to keep up to date with those changes and know how they impact strategy from both an audience and brand point of view.

Understand with insight

“Big data” is the big buzz word this minute. I find just the “data” is enough to worry about. I want to know what the data means. Why has something changed, why has there been an increase, a decrease?  I often come across many social practitioners who fail to put together rationale and insight into why something has occurred. Understanding that helps us move and adapt a strategy to be more successful.

Tool sets

Many technologies, which were once only available to the professional, are now available to all. Companies expect to pay so little for the social media management that the people responsible need to be able to do it all and at the drop of a hat. Film making, photo editing, music production, publishing, presentation making! Even if you don’t know how, you have that ability to dive in and learn from the help menu.

A can-do attitude with a bent for creative problem solving

This is the most important of the four. Experiences in social are often unchartered territory. Most cases require a quick solution and some legwork to get there. Social media peeps need to have that initiative to think of solutions, their potential impacts and then do whatever it takes to get to the most optimal state.

I find the under 25s struggle with a lot of these components. I’ve met under 25s who don’t know how to put a presentation together, understand the insight behind a data run or even provide a rationale to a decision they’ve made. The fact is they’re still learning, which is fine, but it’s the attitude in general that’s the most important asset in a social media manager.

Working in social media isn’t about age. It’s about a sensibility to a field that combines these great changes in technology with a more open society. The individuals that get it aren’t the quacks telling you they can get you 5,000 likes on your Facebook page, what will that even achieve?! The good ones are few and far between and they might be under 25, but there will be a good proportion who aren’t.