Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Is Social Media A Good Career Choice If You're Old?

As far as I'm concerned, there are four--not two--absolutes in life: death, taxes, looks matter and age matters. Ok, so maybe looks are not exactly on par with death, but it's a scientific fact that the better looking you are, the more successful you'll be in life. I will spare you (and me) the drudgery of including 20 more links to research proving looks matter; if you're a person who thinks looks aren't important in this world then I'm quite sure I'm not going to be the one to convince you so no sense trying.

And even those who don't agree that being ugly can be a limiting factor in life have to acknowledge that age is most certainly a limiting factor. You know--ageism? Don't tell me you don't believe in that one either. Well, I wish I could be that optimistic, but I'm not--ageism is alive and well as far as I'm concerned.

But I digress. I'm "only" 40 (for another month) so unless I'm angling to be a model or a stripper, I don't really think my age should be a limiting factor in terms of my career at this point. But I'm beginning to fear that if my career choice is going to be social media maybe I should worry.

As social media becomes more well established as a fact of life as far as businesses are concerned, more and more social media jobs are going to be springing up. I should know--I have one--social media & community specialist. But social media is a new field and a new skill set--and that skill set is unfortunately classified by many as part and parcel of being a recent college grad. Many consider Twitter and Facebook and YouTube to be things teens just intrinsically know, so who better to hire to do those things on the job than teens or 20-somethings?

Think I'm being paranoid? Enter the Twintern. I love the paradoxical message that surrounds the concept of social media intern: brands recognize that social media strategy and engagement are key to a brand's success important that these functions are best suited to interns or entry-level employees.

Here's the thing: if I or another 40 or 50 year-old social media professional had to hit the streets tomorrow to look for a new job and it was between one of us and, say, Charlotte the Twintern, who would get the job? Would it play out in the traditional way--e.g. experience on the job wins--or, when social media jobs are on the table, is the new twintern philosophy going to prevail--e.g. hire the young person who has grown up with these tools because they know them best? I don't know--maybe social media is going to turn out to be a young person's career and 40-somethings like me better think twice about even starting down that path.

What do you think?

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