A post on Next Gen journal – Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25 – crossed my radar recently. The title summarises the viewpoint of the article: that unless you were a teenager when Facebook began, you are way too out of it to be a social media director.
She’s wrong of course: social media is about the social side of things, not the medium. People are people, whether they are using usenet, or the latest incarnation of facebook. It is in some senses rather amazing that what I learnt about internet debating on usenet, using text based programs like tin, are the same skills that I use when debating from a tablet computer on Twitter.
She’s also wrong, because she can remember when she heard about Facebook: it’s not always existed for her. So some of her ideas about relationships were already set when she signed up for her first social media account.
She is also wrong in thinking that social media is all about her (generation). Of course it isn’t: older people use it, and not just as a way of communicating between businesses and youth. The ways a 40-something will interact with another 40-something may be just as relevant to a social media director, as how two teenagers interact. And lets face it, many people – whether a grandparent in their 80s, or a 40-something like me – use social media tools to connect socially.
But she’s right to have seen that the way people think will be different in the future.
Of course her generation will change things a bit: I’ve said in interviews on a number of occasions that by the time HS2 is due to open in 2026, the teenagers who grew up with facebook will take those ways of working into their careers and expect to interact with business associates completely differently to present day managers.
It won’t be her generation though who “can best predict, execute, and utilize the finest developments to come”, and possibly not even the sixth graders who “know nothing other than Timeline”.
It’s going to be the people whose mums used twitter to announce their pregnancy and whose dads first showed their baby pics on Facebook. They won’t remember first encountering the internet, it will just have been around their entire life.