Social media: It’s not just a young person’s game – my Dec. Business Weekly column

My December Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly column focuses on one social media’s “dirty little secrets”: ageism. Thanks to Nancy McCammon-Hansen for lending her perspective to the conversation.

Social media: It’s not just a young person’s game

In 2012, the NextGen Journal published a piece titled “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25.” As you might imagine, the response to the article was overwhelmingly negative, ranging from casual remarks about the folly of youth to calls for an apology from the author, Claire Sloane.

While there was little overt support for Sloane’s opinion, the controversy highlights a problem with social media that persists today — albeit just beneath the surface: ageism. Sloane is by no means unique in her claims that youth is a prerequisite to social-media success, but others are less vocal.

Nancy McCammon-Hansen, the marketing coordinator for Fort Wayne’s History Center and more than twice the age limit suggested by Sloane, has seen this firsthand. Despite being active on a variety of platforms both personally and on behalf of her organization, she believes her efforts are sometimes overshadowed by age — and she sees that perception as somewhat common. I recently spoke with Nancy to learn what she has experienced.

Juliano: I understand you recently had a conversation that implied some ageism — that social media is perceived as only being for the young, in other words. Can you share that comment and your response to it?

McCammon-Hansen: Actually, I’ve had that happen twice: once in April at the state convention of an organization to which I belong and this past month in a comment from a colleague.

Juliano: Have you heard comments like this before or do you know others who have been involved in similar conversations?

McCammon-Hansen: It really annoys me when I go to a meeting and someone makes the comment that, “We have to have some younger people to do that social-media stuff.” Just because I’m over 50 doesn’t mean that I’m over the hill.

Juliano: What’s your perception of this issue? Why do people see youth as an advantage when it comes to social media?

McCammon-Hansen: I think part of it is laziness on the part of some people who would prefer not to learn something new and the perception that “you can’t teach an old — and I use that word reservedly — dog new tricks.”

Juliano: Is there any truth to any of those claims? Are there advantages that come with having a young person manage your social-media strategy?

McCammon-Hansen: What’s really best is to have people with different perspectives involved in the effort. My officemate is a recent college graduate. I think her perspective and mine provide a combination of ideas that is exactly what any social-media program needs. And we both listen to other staff because we all have different social groups to which we belong and we need to appeal to a wide audience. If more than one person has ownership, I think it’s healthier for all involved.

Juliano: What do you think people need to know when it comes to this issue? Do you believe there is truly ageism in the social-media world, and is there a way to resolve that?

McCammon-Hansen: I think there is ageism in the world — and not just when it comes to social media. I don’t like it, but it’s there. However, it’s important to remember that a good team is comprised of people who use their talents to better the business, support one another, help one another and educate one another. You’re all in it together. Why not make the most of the situation and pool your collective talents and abilities rather than concentrating on one facet — and a small one, at that — of your work force?

Juliano: What would you say the next time someone implies that you have to be young to master social media?

McCammon-Hansen: Well — after I sighed loudly, because likely I would do that — I would try to tactfully point out that I manage four Facebook pages, plus my personal one, two Twitter accounts, my LinkedIn page and two blogs. I’d add that I’ve made it a point to learn about social media because that’s my job as someone who works in marketing and public relations. Learning about social media is no different than those of us who learned to type, on a typewriter, now using a computer. If you want to be an asset in the marketplace you keep up and a professional will make it a point to stay current.

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2 Responses to Social media: It’s not just a young person’s game – my Dec. Business Weekly column

  1. mindymwalker says:

    Anthony, This is a timely piece and provides a good perspective by Nancy, who is a creative and talented friend of mine! These are points that need to be made, especially here in Fort Wayne. As Nancy says, there is ageism everywhere and in every sector. However, she highlights what has always been the case for remaining active and relevant in one’s professional and personal life – the need to engage in lifelong learning and master new technologies and knowledge as they relate to or impact your life.

    As someone who also engages daily in social media and a host of other digital technologies for professional and personal matters, I believe the most important components are still the fundamentals of communication, an insatiable curiosity and the ability to employ appropriate strategy given your mission and audience. Also, when it comes to assembling a creative and productive team, I’m with Nancy when she says “we’re all in this together.” We all have much to learn from each other, regardless of age. I would likely walk out of a meeting if it were suggested that social media must be done by those under 25. I just learned that a social media program I provide content, strategy and daily communication for has a Klout score of 59 at the moment – and the Internet was a distant dream when we were 25.

    I feel that Fort Wayne is the most age-conscious, segmented place I’ve ever lived. I perceive almost an obsession with millennials among city leaders and organizations. I’m not certain why that is or should continue to be the case. While I recognize the importance of mentoring and providing opportunities for our younger generation, I believe we would all benefit more and perhaps truly be a great city if we could begin to break down these barriers and value each other’s contributions.

    Best regards, Mindy M. Walker

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE DROID

    Content by Anthony Juliano wrote:

    > a:hover { color: red; } a { text-decoration: none; color: #0088cc; } a.primaryactionlink:link, a.primaryactionlink:visited { background-color: #2585B2; color: #fff; } a.primaryactionlink:hover, a.primaryactionlink:active { background-color: #11729E !important; color: #fff !important; } /* @media only screen and (max-device-width: 480px) { .post { min-width: 700px !important; } } */ ajjuliano posted: “My December Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly column focuses on one social media’s “dirty little secrets”: ageism. Thanks to Nancy McCammon-Hansen for lending her perspective to the conversation. Social media: It’s not just a young person’s game In”

  2. I really love this column. I’m 42, and I’m on Twitter (ok, I’m kinda obsessed with it) and I manage multiple Facebook pages, etc. for clients. I LOVE IT ALL. But I like anything new and I always want to know what’s next. You’re only as old as you believe you are. Age is a matter of perspective, and the whole “we leave that to the young people” perspective only hurts you. If you don’t know how social media operates, you’ve got a blind spot as big as a semi. You need to at least have a working knowledge of it; you don’t necessarily have to be the one to post things there, but you need to understand how it works.
    For example, if you’re a business that has a supply of Duck Dynasty merchandise, you may not understand why it’s a bad idea to promote it today to sell as last-minute Christmas gifts. You may not know to pull the plug on those promos, because you haven’t seen how nasty and ugly comments related to anything to do with that show are getting on Facebook. In fact, you may not have heard about that controversy at all if you’re not on Facebook or Twitter.
    Why would you want to have ANY blind spots? Why would you not be curious? Why would you not want to learn new things? I do not get it.

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