Can Old People Do SEM?
I’ve worked for many different kinds of people over the last five years – from non-marketing savvy to folks who run advertising agencies, from younger to older people, people who are horrified at the idea of Twitter to folks who seem to know more than I do. Our spectrum is wide and covers a huge amount of different knowledge bases and ranges of experience.
Over the years, I’ve worked with many clients who are used to having an iron grip on their businesses. A few of these folks are major marketing gurus who train people who to do online marketing at high prices. Unfortunately, the advent of social media threw a wrench in their understanding of their businesses and how best to proceed in their own marketing.
When you don’t know how to use a new form of marketing, micromanaging a certain percentage of your staff is nearly impossible. You’re trusting someone to dispatch a message in a way you don’t understand – so you’re either going to need to take time to sit down and become an expert, or trust your business to someone else. It’s a Catch-22. It’s a symptom of being part of an aging population that doesn’t always grasp new technology as well as serving that population.
The Old Codger?
Age discrimination is never okay. It’s always upsetting to me to see people asking the hard questions – and assuming that anyone over the age of 50 has no idea what they’re doing when they get on the web. Keep in mind that some of the first – and best- web designers of 10-20 years ago are our mentors today, and set the standards for the tools we use web-wide.
So the problem is not, of course, that baby boomers can’t do social media – the problem is more whether or not we want to refer to the baby boomer generation as old folks (I really don’t, it’s a pejorative) or that everyone over 50 has a jitterbug phone and doesn’t know how the hell to Instagram. The problem is that career and personal growth opportunities for folks who don’t know the ropes – whether they’re 20 or 120 – are super limited. When an aging or otherwise non-SEM-experienced population is confronted with technology , how can we provide baby boomers with support to be competitive in a job market if they don’t understand how all this stuff works?
Seeing this kind of stuff makes me sad:
At the end of the day, it has to be about passion. You can’t go to a trade school or college and get a Master of Arts, SM (Social Media). Scratch that – you probably can, but it’s not a degree that a hiring manager will recognize as adequate training. SEM hiring managers are looking for experience above all – do you know how to get results? Can you show how you plan to use your expertise to further increase the bottom line of the company that hires you?
Experimentation is the Master
The problem with a “social media training school” is there is no finite way to do Social Media or any other type of online marketing. If there were, we’d all be winning the ROI lottery. The misfortune of searching for a teacher is that understanding how all this works is fine if you have a good mentor, but nothing takes the place of decent experience and exposure on your own. You’d be better off reading blogs, keeping on top of industry standards and asking your friends who own business to take you on as a free or cheap intern.
On Being Self-Taught
My parents bought me my first computer when I was 15. That’s given me 18 solid years at this point to traverse through the world of Myspace and Livejournal to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Keeping personal profiles on these networks assures a decade of experience that some folks who are just learning the value of social media simply don’t have.
So if you happen to be this guy who calls himself an old codger – do what I told you. Put yourself out there, start your own personal Twitter and Facebook and experiment with these channels to see if social media and online marketing are really for you. Firms aren’t going to hire the younger guy – they’ll hire the better one. If you have a great background and can demonstrate measured results for other clients, you’re in the door.