Cathryn Sloan’s post “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25” has certainly stirred up some controversy. The recent University of Iowa graduate still has a lot of learning to do.
It’s not fair to personally attack Ms. Sloan or even NextGen Journal. I am disappointed in the seasoned marketers who have taken such a route, and still flabbergasted by many of the millennials that support Cathryn’s opinion.
As an adjunct professor at Marquette University and a hiring manager at Laughlin Constable I have to say that the editors of NextGen Journal, Connor, and Cathryn need to weed through the personal attacks and listen to the advice from their peers and marketing veterans.
In the past I’ve talked about ongoing education in the marketing field, and the importance it has for everyone involved. Whether it is a peer, a client, an intern, or a friend – we are all responsible for our integrated success.
For the most part, the social media team I’ve built at Laughlin Constable is made up of millennials and they do indeed manage many of our client’s social media channels. They have many great ideas and a very good understanding of the channel(s).
Cathryn seems to think that just because millennials “spent [their] adolescence growing up with social media” they are better suited to manage the presence of a brand in social media channels. I appreciate that the experience growing up with a technology may make you better suited in understanding and applying it. But that’s like saying because I use my car everyday that I could run Ford, GM, or Hyundai. I’m sure their stockholders would disagree, and so would I.
What I hope Connor and Cathryn come to understand is this, the incredible response you’ve received with the article is because you are wrong. Now this isn’t to say that you are not better suited to understand the technology or tools associated with social media, unfortunately that isn’t the sum of all the parts.
Many marketing veterans have read and responded to the article because we’ve been in your shoes before. And instead of scolding you, we want to offer some advice. Maybe I’ve just lived long enough to become the “old guy” offering that advice, but I hope you read and digest it.
I remember the eagerness and excitement I brought to my first marketing job. The little wins make you feel important and like you are accomplishing everything you set out to do. It’s important for you to have these moments, it will drive your future success.
However, you need to find the veterans in the company you work for. Find the ones willing to talk with you. These people may have gray hair and wrinkles. Do not be afraid. In fact they may have a Twitter account with more followers than you, and their rolodex may even have more contacts than that.
Not everyone seems a new graduate the same way. Perhaps some people only expect you to get them coffee. Others may expect you to do only mundane tasks. But some of us see the potential. We want to help shape your future. Much like your parents, we may also want to protect you and help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made.
Marketing may start with understanding the channels you work in, but it will never trump knowledge and experience. That may come in may forms; including knowledge about a particular industry, experience with past campaigns, depth of knowledge and experience with a particular brand, or years of working in an agency and creating connections with others – including the consumer.
This isn’t to say new thinking isn’t appreciated. It is. But know when and how to share that and you’ll become a trusted source for your team, your superiors, and the company.
I know you may want to be in client meetings, you want to share all of your great ideas, and you think you are ready for the next step. We are here to help you get there, but also let you know when you aren’t quite ready.
Unfortunately I see a growing trend of entitlement, ignorance, and arrogance from many graduates. Perhaps as I’ve aged I forgot how I was essentially the same. But I can confidently say that your degree, age, or experience with Facebook isn’t enough to have any brand hand over the keys to their brand. It takes time, education, and immersion.
Perhaps we should be more disappointed with the managing editors at NextGen Journal for posting the article. They had the opportunity to prepare Cathryn for the type of response this article may receive. The poor girl hasn’t tweeted since last week and likely has taken much of the response and internalized it.
I urge Cathryn, Connor and everyone at NextGen Journal to find the positive comments and advice. As marketers, and practitioners, it is our responsibility to educate, encourage, and offer opportunity to those eager (and young) hires.
On the flip side, I encourage people like Cathryn to focus on the process, method, and research instead of just the tools or channels. Understanding the intersection of marketing, technology, strategy, and research will help you in your career and with your clients.
If you really want to prove yourself, continue to provide the critical thinking necessary to apply your strengths and skills to the strategies and marketing plans your elders have crafted.
This has been a “controversial” topic because so many experienced practitioners have been in your shoes and see the flaw in your thinking. Accept it and understand that we are all trying to make you better. And that starts with a little bit of openness from all parties, and continued listening and education.