NextGen & Cathryn Sloane: A Social Media Wake-Up Call

It’s been just a month since Cathryn Sloane published her now infamous post on NextGen Journal, Why Every Social Media Manager Should be Under 25.


Wow, did a post from this young college grad hit a sensitive and insecure nerve in social media professionals! In the past few weeks, her post received more than 600 comments and thousands of tweets, mostly negative, reflecting the growing chasm between the generations in the social media world.

Time to get over it, all of you naysayers from Millennials to Baby Boomers. The world doesn’t revolve around you!

As someone well over 25 who manages both public relations and social media for my company, I am grateful that Cathryn’s post started this hot button discussion.

This is a wake-up call for social media managers everywhere.  We should be talking about this issue openly–and honestly examining our attitudes–in every workplace, institution and organization, not just to clear the air with Kumbaya moments but because the synergy of the experiences of all ages can only benefit the work we do.

Although I don’t agree with Cathryn’s post, I respect her opinion and have learned a great deal from this controversy.  After reading some of the nastier comments, I found myself not only feeling empathy for this young woman but for all of the younger people who grimaced when they read the mean spirited stereotypes about their generation.

I remember the thrill I experienced as a 23-year-old when a senior manager accepted my ideas and complimented my work.  I carry this memory with me when I work with and mentor younger pros. I respect their opinions and often ask for their feedback.  As a manager now, I see it as my responsibility to provide leadership and create an environment for all of us to learn together and grow our social media skills to achieve our goals. Because that’s what it’s all about, no matter how old we are and how many years we’ve been working in social media.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Gina Krause August 25, 2012 at 8:14 pm

It’s about time that the social media world acknowledged that personal use of social media does not prep you to use these channels for business communication. Social Media is a marketing channel that requires insight and knowledge about the target market and the experience/ability to develop and execute strategic plans. It’s much more complex than just posting updates to Facebook and Twitter. Social media managers need a certification program to weed out the wannabes from the wise.


Stanley Feld August 25, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Eve, I truly appreciate you taking the stand that you have. The visual you chose of the girl spinning around is not only Ms. Sloan but the close to 700 people who replied to her post, many in the nastiest of ways. That was media but not social at all. Both sides of the discussion which in many instances turned into a tirade are right and wrong. Many are spinning around not knowing where to go. Seems like the good ole days when everyone and their brother in law was a webmaster. Were they? Heck no. I am a so-called boomer in the computer industry and whether we like it or not, our children are the future and we need to support them. Cathryn’s article had its good and bad points but she is a participant in this new world of technology. She should have been treated with more respect. She represents the future, whether we like it or not. To all of you her slapped her pretty bad, I would say, if you don’t stay on top of your game people of her age and skills will be doing the slapping in due time. Spend some time walking the halls of the social media giants like Facebook, Linkedin, foursquare, etc. Hard to find a boomer working in those organizations. That should make some of you take pause and realize that social media is in its infancy and the article proved that many of us still act as infants. Bravo Eve for bringing this to light.


The Social Mediator August 26, 2012 at 2:24 am

I’ve got to say — Eve’s post contains a much more reasonable argument than the original post, and the hundreds of vitriolic comments that go along with it. It’s a relief to know that people like her still exist – someone who can approach social media with a level head, and read deeper into an article than just the link bait title (Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25 — give me a break). Maybe this is what it means to be a professional.


Rachel Karl September 14, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Eve, I love this post! You are SO spot on. I remember cringing when I read all the nasty comments from the “over 25″ crowd as well. While I also didn’t agree with what she said, I respected her opinion – and more importantly – I remember feeling that same way when I was younger. So I empathize with her and am looking forward to her follow-up post when she’s 35… it will be interesting to see how/if her views have shifted by then :)


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