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Small to medium size companies tend to hire young professionals to fill social media positions. These social media experts tend to be energetic, idealistic, and eager to prove their merit. Because they grew up with social media they’re quite comfortable with the different social media platforms. Using a laptop on the grass, a mobile in their hand and a tablet in their lap is not unusual for them. But the issue I have is social media management positions come with an expectation of skill, experience, respect and decorum the younger generations haven’t warmed up to. I’m sorry, but in my experience it’s true and it can be a real problem.
I’m not sure why the companies hire them but I’d guess what’s running through the hiring manager’s mind goes something like this:
- We need to be on social media
- Our staff are a bunch of old fogies that don’t get social media
- We need someone to speak the lingo and sell our product/service
- And we need to keep the cost low because we aren’t sure about this social media thing (or the abilities of the new hire)
- Let’s hire a college kid
Ergo – we hire someone in their 20s. Yes, I’m oversimplifying but believe me, I know people that think this way. Here’s what it boils down to:
- Assumed qualifications: they must know how to use social media to do marketing because they’re young and use social media
- Overlooked qualifications: they often lack experience in strategic use of social media with measurable objectives
Result. Bad, bad, bad.
I don’t mean to disparage 20 somethings – we all have to start somewhere. I do mean to point out that most 20 somethings do not have significant life or professional experience to do the job. Which in my opinion is a serious handicap. Plenty of social skills perhaps but not in a strategic business way.
I totally understand the desire of a company to hire someone straight out of college into an entry level position. But that is far different from managing social media for a brand. Social media management is not an entry level or even a mid-level position. Being in charge of a company’s social media presence equates to sitting in the driver’s seat of the brand in the biggest networking event on the planet. As a business strategist, I believe hiring an entry level person, inexperienced with your business vertical and life in general, to develop and lead the brand’s social media strategy is (please pardon me) business suicide.
The social media manager should be a senior position and requires an experienced and seasoned leader – reporting direct to at least a VP of marketing if not the CEO. Yes, a leader. This position is on the front-lines and dealing with communications that represent the company daily. They need autonomy and must be trusted to speak well on the company’s behalf. To be successful in social media, start with hiring good people with experience AND social skills and you’ll be well rewarded.