Never too old to be a…

In late July this year, a young lass named Cathryn Sloane from the University of Iowa sparked a lot of conversation online after writing this piece on social media community managers for NextGen Journal.

In her article, Cathryn confidently voiced her opinion that social media community managers should be under the age of 25. Her reasoning? Facebook and Twitter were launched in 2004 and 2006 respectively and adolescents at the time grew up with social media. She claims they therefore had an understanding of “how life worked without [social media] but had [social media] thrown upon [them] at an age where the ways to make the best/correct use of it came most naturally to [them]”. She went on to say “No one else will ever be able to have as clear an understanding of these services, no matter how much they may think they do”.

As a 32 year old social media community manager, I’m not personally insulted by her piece. Not really.

OK, I was a little gob-smacked when I first read it, but the more I think about it, it seems to me that Cathryn only wrote this piece to get in the (pre-Generation Y) online community’s face. And it worked. People were legitimately angry. If you scroll down to the bottom of the piece, you see over 400 scathing comments – super hate stuff. There were 7,900 Facebook interactions and a whole bunch of shares to Twitter. Rebuttal pieces were swiftly written including this piece from a 48 year old social media manager. I love the commotion of it all.

So, now I’ll stop going on about Cathryn’s article and get down to the benefits of being a more mature social media worker. Or any kind of worker. Mature workers have so much to offer organisations and that is because of something that Cathryn won’t have until she’s older; experience. I have learned in my time as a community manager what stuff works and what flops. You can do a lot of reading about how to be a successful community manager, but at the end of the day, you have to just do it. NextGen Journal guest blogger and Cathryn Sloane article rebutter, Mark Story, puts it rather poignantly: “‘Experience’ is the key part because it is accumulated from a career based upon learning, trial and error, success and failure.  You try, you learn, you apply, you move on.  There is no substitute for experience.” Amen Mark!

Throughout their careers those aged 55+ have always had to adapt to technological changes and advances. We are constantly being faced with new technologies and methods, no matter if you’re from Gen X, Gen Y or a Baby Boomer.  The point is we are all learning and trying to stay abreast.

Lots of people think older Australians don’t know how to use the internet. Well, how about these apples (via the Adage Blog):

  • Currently in Australia there are over 2 million Australian’s over 50 on Facebook and counting.
  • 85% of people aged 50-64 are online and over 50% engage with organisations on social media.

Further challenging stereotypes about internet usage amongst our older population is Ellis Jones’ Older Victorians Online report from earlier this year.

Ellis Jones knows that older people are definitely online and very employable. Check out some case studies.

Image credit:   TraderGroup Signal, Flickr Creative Commons