Guest Post: A Finance Professional’s Response to 11 Reasons a 23 Year Old Shouldn’t Manage Social Media

A personal friend & mentor wrote a response to an article I discussed last week. Please see below for his thoughts. If you would like to learn more about him & what he does, please visit Studentloan CPA {dot} com.

A Business & Finance Professional’s Response to 11 Reasons a 23 Year Old Shouldn’t Manage Your Social Media.

By Oseloka Albert Okagbue

After reading this article, and reading your responses two things jump out at me.  The article doesn’t conceptually separate personal/generational maturity from professional maturity.  The writer makes it seem like the two happen at the same rate.  Secondly, it focuses too much on the person, and too little on the professional.  This doesn’t work, because the topic is clearly a “professional” issue.  Still, I agree with the writer’s viewpoint which appears to be that youth and social media usage alone don’t qualify someone to run a campaign.

Personal/Generational Maturity v.s. Professional Maturity

Generation Y is taking longer to mature on a personal level.  That is true.  But that doesn’t always affect our professional development.  It depends on how the economy is going and what is available.  For example, I have degrees in Accounting and a CPA license.  I get jobs easily and have recruiters chasing me on LinkedIn.  It’s not because I am special (most of them don’t know me).  It’s because Accounting & Finance talent demand is far ahead of supply.  CPAs, Financial Advisors etc are disproportionately over age 55, so there are not enough of us.  The result?  My professional development is rapid, whether I like it or not.  I am already working as a Sr. Accountant.

My current position says nothing about how much people like me have accepted our career paths.  Most of us know it pays the bills and do it responsibly, but we all have other interests and desires that could yet become careers for us.  We also haven’t figured out if the lives led by people in our profession is what we want for ourselves, and since salaries are lower today than 10 years ago, life matters a lot more.

People in slower-growth professions have a similar problem.  When a young person can’t get a job out of college, they will take longer to mature. If they don’t get to experience that first job in their major, their personal maturity can be postponed for reasons beyond their control.  I don’t think that the personal/generational maturity is relevant here though – it’s just a distraction.  A person’s professional qualifications and attributes can mature at a faster or slower rate than his/her own “self-discovery”.  It is “old-school” “baby-boomer-type” thinking to expect these two things to align….the world is far more complex now.  It is no longer just in entertainment and sports that “talented” people are immature.

Focusing On The Person and Ignoring The Professional

Social media is a consumer-driven personal tool, but it is also a professional tool.  It is no different from the accounting software I use at my day-job, or the tax software I use in my tax practice.  The writer focuses a bit too much on the personal aspect, as if Generation Y folks are incapable of seeing it differently.  I have seen several articles and courses targeted to business leaders, to help them assess the risks and benefits of social media – and they all reveal that it is just a tool.  Depending on the company, the Twitter page, Facebook page, and/or Blog could be managed by just about anyone.  If you are focused on PR, then those people will be behind the content.  If you are focused on advertising, then the marketing folks.  At the end of the day, SM is a tool that qualified professionals (no matter their age or personal maturity) can qualify to use.

In my opinion, the best candidates for social media work may or may not even be 23 years old.  Even if they are, they cannot they know it all.  I would be more interested in someone trained in Public Relations, Journalism, or Communications (like Derrick of than someone who has 500 random Twitter followers.  I have 1,000 Facebook friends, does that mean you should let me run your account?  Of course not.  Whether the employee is active on social media (on their own) is no matter.  My boss doesn’t keep me away from the office phone because I have a cell phone.  The main aspect that a business enterprise will be concerned about is the “professional” running the campaign.  When I first met Alexis Grant on Twitter, she was managing another account without her picture on it or a mention of her name.  You only have to see her social media guides to know that she knows her stuff – even though an employer may be hesitant about her Tweeting from the Congo (or wherever she is).  Sure she isn’t 23 years old, but she isn’t “old” either so her resume is her selling point.

The employer should learn how to hire people with the right professional background, then teach them the industry and expose them to ongoing learning about social media.  At the end of the day, SM is still new – and people of all ages have less than a decade of real experience with it. Further, like all technology, it is still changing fast!

My Bottom Line

The article’s ideas make sense, but in my opinion they don’t reflect the views that a Chief Marketing Officer, or Head of Public Relations might have.  These are the people who will ultimately decide who to hire for Social Media campaigns – if a company doesn’t have one (formally), then someone is wearing that hat.

If the purpose of the article was to draw people away from the notion that any 23 year old can run their social media campaign, then my writing here must not be considered a rebuttal. My points are mostly meant to demonstrate that the candidate’s professional status and behavior are what really matter – and therefore that a person of any age may qualify.  As an advocate of Generation Y personal finance, I would love for us to have the monopoly on social media spending, but clearly we can’t.  Still, I believe that we are as qualified as any age group to benefit from the many entrepreneurial & professional opportunities social media brings.

About Albert Okagbue

What happens when you add a top-tier finance education, lots of student loan debt, and a CPA license to the son of a professor? You get Albert Okagbue, a financial consultant & educator to young professionals and entrepreneurs.  Affectionately known as “the student loan CPA”, he believes that to win in the new global economy young people have to think differently about the money they earn and the money they borrow.  On his blog he shares ideas from within himself and just about everywhere else.

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