thoughts, ideas and notions


Community Manager: Too old, too young – Is there a just right?


We’re  finishing up a social media audit and assessment project for a very large, very successful company. Part of our job has been to recommend who should be part of their social media team. And not unexpectedly as the discussions began, the first question was about age. How old should a social media community manager be?  They’re not the first to ask us and they won’t be the last.

TECH-GEEKSGUIDE-protecting-your-kids-online-525x375The world of social media is often seen as the domain of the young.  It seems impossible to many that a 40, 50 or 60 year old would be up to the task. How could they be? They haven’t been using computers or technology since they were two,  they may have only set up their Facebook page a few years ago, they have no idea what MySpace is and they probably have to look up texting acronyms like 14AA41 or CLM. ( I did.)

So what’s the answer?  As with many things in the social media sphere, it depends. It depends on the audience, the product, the social media channel(s) and on the company culture.   Company culture, in my opinion might be the most important.  The company that we are working with, sees itself as a family and they should.  It’s a family owned business with several generations working there. Many employees have been with the company for over 25 years and now their children are members of the family team.  This family atmosphere isn’t going to be for everyone and as they consider hiring a Community Manager, it will be incredibly important that the person fits into this culture of family.  The age of the community manager has nothing to do with it.

We aren’t saying that a 20 something wouldn’t be a great as a community manager but check out their online posts and profiles and take the time to define what skills your company or organization needs in a Community Manager rather than simply saying to that 20 year old, ‘You’re young, you know how to do this. Here you go.’   The same goes for a more experienced worker. Knowing how to use Facebook or understanding Google Analytics doesn’t mean you can create great content that your audience will respond to or that you’re the best advocate for your company.

A great example of how NOT to hire a social media community liaison comes from Kent, England where the newly elected commissioner hired a 16 year old to be the force’s youth commissioner to act as a liaison.  Despite the force completing a full police background check on the 16 year old, no one thought to check her social media posts.  It didn’t take the media long to find out that her past posts weren’t really what you’re looking for in a youth liaison ( or any kind of community liaison), they included racist and homophobic tweets.  The girl has since resigned.  When the commissioner who hired her was questioned about the vetting process she responded, “Nobody normally looks through anybody’s Twitter feed. Perhaps that’s a lesson for the future.”  WOW!

Bottom line, there’s no right age for a social media community manager. What you should look for are people with the right skill set, the right attitude and, if you’re really fortunate, someone who loves your brand as much as you do.

If you’re thinking of hiring a social media community manager or looking at who in your company should be the social media person, these are a few of the technical and personal skills they should have:

  • strong in person and online communications skills
  • Social media experience
  • Good judgement
  • Empathy
  • Organizational skills
  • Adaptability
  • Passion for the brand

If you’re thinking of hiring a social media community manager or interested in
auditing your social media efforts. Give arnoldi:mcpherson a call 905.684.9393 or send us an email, we can help.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]About Robin McPherson

Robin’s focus is on analyzing, researching and studying the world of social media and its impact on the world around us. She is always looking at new social tools and how they can be applied to different situations and clients.[/author_info] [/author]