Is 23 too old to learn about Social Media?

Today I will be starting a two month internship with Aaron + Gould, a top Social Media agency in Exeter, DEVON.

My knowledge of Social Media is next to zilch.

I’ve read Scott Gould’s blog *religiously* for the past month in anticipation of this internship and it has left me, at points, completely flummoxed and, at other points, hugely excited about this fledgling industry and motivated to learn more.

Worryingly, from the research that I have done, it seems that most of the people in the Social Media industry are internet whizzes who were programming HTML from the time they could get a wireless signal in the fallopian tubes.

At 23, I already feel disadvantaged that I spent my teenage years serving my local church, partying and being in failed rock bands. You know, normal stuff. I realise now that I should have been getting my javascript on.

Guess what kids – the nerds will inherit the earth.

Me during happier times when I didn't realise how ignorant I was...

Question: How old are you and what do you know about Social Media?


About jonathanrose

Raconteur. Intellectual. Showerman.
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32 Responses to Is 23 too old to learn about Social Media?

  1. Linesman says:

    Three years your junior, and I have to confess I had never knowingly heard the term ‘Social Media’ before. And I used to dabble in a little HTML as well, back in the day. Who knows what could have been had I pushed on into java… I wish you all the best in your journey of discovery.

  2. Beth W says:

    21 years of age 😀

    Social media- methods of communication and dissemination of information online. Blogging, vlogging, social networks, virals, YouTube etc…


  3. Abbie says:

    I’m 21 and I know NOTHING about social media. Definitely less than you. I don’t even know what java is.

  4. Dan Bond says:

    I’m 26, and while I have quite a background in web stuff (writing HTML, etc) I would say that a lot of the social media thing now is using the tools (Facebook, Twitter, etc) rather than creating a platform yourself. I’m into politics, and if you look at the most successful blogs by far they are:

    1) Regularly updated with interesting content
    2) Commented on by the readership who have lively discussions
    3) Linked into a range of media (Youtube, Twitter, live chatroom style discussions of live events, the text of which is then left as available for people to read later)
    4) Mostly somewhere to the right, which may be more of a reflection of my views, but worth noting that it’s often about having the right audience and saying something people want to hear

    If you have an eye for what looks good, if you have a excellent sense of humour (which you totally do), then that’s much more important than the technical stuff which you will pick up as and when you need it I’d guess.

    • jonathanrose says:

      Dan Bond! A genuinely BIG thanks for your comment. The input and advice you’ve given is appreciated. Plus, I like you’re *distinct* slant – the political scene is a particularly interesting one to watch and I’d appreciate if you monitored/ redirected me/ gave me your thoughts about how Hull Council and local Conservatives in your area have used Social Media/ new media for the upcoming election…

      One question: As a canvasser for the Conservatives and self-styled man-of-the-people*, have you not been tempted to start using Twitter?

      *Possible misrepresentation by me here. Don’t sue.

  5. Alex Banfield Hicks says:

    I’m 29 and I agree with Nick – sorry, I mean Dan.
    My understanding of social media is that it is an online opportunity to do PR & Marketing and promote brands / people / events with lots of end-user-generated content. It is also an opportunity to do market research and get an impression of what ‘people are really saying’.

    • jonathanrose says:

      Cheers for the comment bro.

      Question: How have you seen social media employed at UCCF?

      I notice you FB is pretty inactive so does that mean you’re using another platform for your work?

  6. Niki says:

    I’m 22 and in a similar position to the others that have replied! I must confess, I’d never heard it labelled as ‘social media,’ but I understand what it means (I think). Aside from I.T. lessons back in school, I haven’t done any html or java or anything like that but, as Dan said, I think there are a lot of tools readily available now (social networking stuff, blogging etc), and the question is whether you can utilise them most effectively and reach your target audiences.

    As for the programming side of things, if it makes you feel any better, my older brother (who is 25) decided to teach himself programming (I have literally no idea whether it was html/java or what!) from scratch so he could make his own game for the iPhone and start up his own business with a friend. About 9 months later and their first game is about to go on sale! I realise he’s obviously been able to dedicate a lot of time to learning and applying the programming in a short space of time but, my point is, it is definitely do-able to start learning about it beyond the age of 23. Plus, that’s what internships are for! 🙂

  7. Rhiannon says:

    Despite being one of the new wave of journalists who have ‘grown up’ with social media, I’m still pretty hesitant to claim I know what I’m doing. As far as personal use goes, it seems helpful to be on facebook and twitter (see my blog post on the joys of lazy research:, and YouTube provides some hilarious virals, but I’m happy to let technically minded people do the hard work. HTML? Not a chance.

    • jonathanrose says:

      Rhi – I’m glad to see you’re utilising Twitter for all it has to offer.
      Do you only use it for professional matters or are *friends* on it as well?

      If you haven’t already, I suggest you check out John Stevens’ site:

      For more on how news and new media can overlap!

      PS You’ll see that I FINALLY worked out how to change my gravatar. SWEET.

  8. T-Rich says:

    Hi. I’m 21. And I’ve had a few failed websites.

    All of them failed ultimately because there was not enough people wanting to spend time on them (and I guess also not enough opportunity to do so). I guess that’s the big requirement for the internet side of ‘social media’. I have a working knowledge of simple stuff like HTML, CSS, a bit of JavaScript and very basic PHP, but I’m aware the big kids rarely use most of these languages nowadays for the main code of their websites. Part of the reason for this is probably the greater push for compatibility between different forms of social networking (eg. blogs linked to Twitter and Facebook with embedded YouTube videos, with updates sent to readers through RSS feeds) which is basically about allowing users to interact with web content.

    I guess the effective thing about ‘social media’ in a money-making sense is the ‘social’ part. Stuff like viral marketing campaigns, efficient use of social networking websites, and clever use of advertising, all work because they create some kind of dialogue between the people and the brand.

    These are my thoughts, though I must admit to finding ‘social media’ a bafflingly-vague term. Enjoy your time in the corporate world…

  9. Rachel Carpenter says:

    I’m 24, and I see social media as a platform to get your voice and opinions out to a wide range of people across the net.
    I agree with Dan that you can certainly get going without needing an indepth knowledge of programming.
    SPEAK struggles with overworked, understaffed, computer illiterate volunteers. We would be absolutely lost without all the ready made social media sites, and although we could be soooooooooo much better, if even we can get a (weak!) voice out there, then you will have no problem.

    Besides – you can go on courses, read books and study in spare time to learn programming skills if you want to. It’s a lot harder to “learn” a sense of humour, an interesting writing style and a passion for connecting with people.
    You’ve already got those… so you’ve got an advantage!

    • jonathanrose says:

      Hi Rachel,
      Which social media platforms do SPEAK use?

      What are their aims for using social media? – I imagine raising awareness is a priority!…But has it forged links with any business or sponsors?

      Thanks for the kind words 😉

  10. John Stevens says:

    Hi Jonny

    I am 23 also and I definitely do not think it is too late to learn about social media. One of the great things about social media is that it is accessible for all. You don’t need to be a computer geek who knows what CSS style sheets or HMTL coding are to be able to use it.

    I passionately hate things like Second Life, they are way too geeky and weird. However, one of the most powerful things I have seen come out of social media is the building of online communities. Look at how Scott Gould has built connections and links with key business leaders in Exeter from the starting point of twitter, and how those relationships have grown by communicating online.

    A lot of people talk about how social media is affecting the election. No, it is not going to inform how most people vote. No, we haven’t seen anything like what happened with Obama’s campaign. However, where it is making a difference is in energising party activists. Look at how labour members communicate with each other on twitter, the creation of that online labour-supporting community. I am sure that has made a huge difference in bringing supporters on the margins into traditional campaigning activities on the doorstep.

    Social media is over-hyped and many people’s visions and expectations are completely removed from reality. However, there are plenty of examples of how it is making a difference. Oh and Jonny, from looking at your happychurch blog etc I don’t believe for a minute that you have missed out by not learning javascript as a youth.

    • jonathanrose says:

      Firstly John, I would just like to thank you for contributing so exhaustively on the topic!

      I am surprised that as a commentator who regularly documents the interaction between social media and journalism at you seem to think it is “over-hyped” and “completely removed from from reality”. I don’t know enough about SM yet to mount a [good-natured] defense to your view but as a layman it does seem to be an industry with legs that seems to be going places fast.

      Having looked at JS -I am really impressed with how meticulously you’re reporting on the overlap between media. Please excuse me if you find me commenting on it with slightly inexpert opinion!

  11. Samuel Rich says:

    I’m 23, have been blogging on and off for a few years now. However, I haven’t been doing it as religiously as some of my friends, mainly blogging some spiritual highlights, book review or a hilarious viral YouTube vid( see David camerons gap yah). I’ve learnt a few basic HTML or Css tricks which I basically just poached from friends websites. Thankfully although it is a big help to know these coding languages there are tools out there to create similar designs and snazzy looking blogs are within reach. Everywhere you look now social media has had an massive impact on journalism, as anyone can be a journalist post a video, article or photo and become an internet sensation. You only have to look at how many celebs and news organisations have blogs, facebooks, twitter to see how massively it effect the future of journalism and all kinds of writing. — Keep up the happy church blog it is a joy to many including myself.

    • jonathanrose says:

      Thanks for the big-ups Sam! Is that a shameless bid for a HC mention I’m detecting LOL 😉

      What made you want to blog?

      Also – looking at your blog, which template do you use and how did you manage to personalise the header with the Jamaican Flag and everything?

      Do you Tweet?

  12. Joeeeee says:

    I’m 22 and I only just learned what the term ‘social media’ actually meant when I read the above comments. I’m also, and I say this as humbly as possible, a HTML/PHP badman. However, not so much with Javascript.

    Speaking as a web developer and general nerd, I very much agree with Dan that you don’t need to be a good programmer to make a good website. I also agree with John that social media is over-hyped. The key to a good website is simplicity. The user goes on to a website to find information, so the website should help him to do that as fast as possible, and in an intuitive way. No need for animated flash menus and over-zealous use of graphics all over the place. The user wants his information and he wants to find it now.

    Blogging is a good use of social media, I think. The newest post is displayed as soon as the user enters the website, and if he has missed a previous post, a list of dates is usually accessed at the side of the page. He can find what he wants in 1 or 2 clicks of the mouse button. Facebook is a terrible example. It’s a useful communication tool, but often finding things on it takes forever and dagnabbit it does NOT have a simple layout.

    Keep it simple. Keep it intuitive.

  13. Anila Babla says:

    Love social media – theres always someone who knows more than you but I guess I know a fair bit. None of it learned during the IT degree mind!

    Anyway, main thing is comments – people actually tuning in to what you have to say and genuinely wanting to respond. So, you have to have something to say. Sounds like a no-brainer, but it has to be something that makes readers want to come back time and again.

    I think you can learn some of this stuff but if you are naturally engaging that comes through online…which it does with you!

    This article also really stood out for me, have a read when you have about 14hours free:

    love, hugs and hi-5s,

  14. Scott Gould says:

    Jonny, so great to see all these comments on your first blog post.

    What’s interesting is your perspective on Social Media – which is wrapped up in the technology. I see it totally another way – as psychology.

    Being good at Social Media is about being a Social person.

  15. Munya Hoto says:

    Im 22 and I agree with Scott, social media is not in itself an end via the means of technology but a means to enhance communication. Its perhaps cliché to encourage some thinking outside the box but with social media the concept of the box is continually challenged.

    Sow hat is social media to me? – I looked up the two words to see whether that would perhaps clarify the fact that its wider than my laptop – the word social according to wiki means “relating to human society and its members” and media according to varying sources means “the means of communication.” Blended together I guess social media refers to the means of communication relating and employed by human society and its members – now we’re talking.
    Its not constrained to a location, there is no need for permissions to create or publish, the audience is the society and the means are varying in nature. Social media is the next generation of communication whatever form it appears in.

    your thoughts?

  16. David Singeisen says:

    25. Social Media – social networking websites, new media, blogs etc (Not that familiar with what it actually means)

  17. Michael Stickland says:

    I’m 24, and I’ve been familiar with the term social media for a couple of years, although suspect that it’s a somewhat fluid concept that different people use to include or exclude certain forms.

    I still don’t completely get Twitter, although I am intrigued by the varying possibilities of what people could use as its past participle. The only time I’ve seen it used in a way that interested me was a friend using it while watching one of the election debates, and using some application on their laptop that would show them all the things their friends had posted (tweeted/twat/twit) as the election went along – it was more or less like watching the programme with a big group of his friends.

    Twitter (and other forms of social media could follow the same argument) seems to be somewhat of a self fufilling prophecy, it doesn’t have all that large an amount of regular users, but journalists are the people most interested by it, therefore most likely to use it, therefore most likely to write/post/talk about it, hence it gets a fairly amplified amount of coverage for the number of active users.

    I’m also interested to see whether Twitter will ever become a company that makes a serious profit, I think the owners have had offers for part of the equity that value the company as having a large market capitalisation, but they’ve not really proven any large scale part of money making activities. The same could have been said of Google a while ago but they’ve done some amazing things with analysing data, I’m just not sure whether Twitter could manage the same due to their data often being more based upon opinion rather than fact. However, I believe that Twitter’s major income form so far has been through some sort of deal to include their posts in Bing/Google’s search engines.

    I avoided joining any social networking sites until there was a clear market leader which would become the one that “everyone” was using, I remember getting invites to join things like WhereAreYouNow as far back as early 2005 and just thinking that it would be pointless unless lots of other people used the same website. So I’m not much of an early adopter by attitude then! I didn’t want to waste time trying to use a few different websites that seemed to effectively do the same thing so waited until lots of people seemed to be using Facebook and then joined up. It’s interesting how in other countries (or even age groups) different social networking sites have become the market leader, but even then it is possible for something else to overtake it – for instance there’s a very similar site to Facebook in Germany (called something in German, I think SFZ is the acronym) which was really popular amongst students but slowly it’s user base has been eroded as more and more people started using Facebook as they could then link to friends in other countries too.

    I read a few friends’ blogs every now and again, and sort of did one myself for a while when I was in Peru, through posting notes on Facebook. I was pretty surprised by the amount of people better categorised as loose acquaintances than close friends who were interested enough to read them. The same could be said about posting statuses on Facebook, I’ve got a few friends who will frequently respond, but then there are random other people I don’t know very well who occasionally comment – and equally I do the same with other people.

    Some changes on Facebook to make it more user friendly seem to largely go unnoticed. Recently I’ve seen more and more how people I contact more on Facebook, and interact with our mutual friends, will appear more on my News Feed. Whereas people I don’t have much contact with, nor many mutual friends won’t appear very frequently at all. It’s some sort of clever algorithm that must be doing this, and in my mind it does a really good job and showing me things I’m more likely to be interested in.

    One tip for your internship, don’t consult any sociable mediums by accident.

  18. Scott Gould says:

    @Michael Stickland – Twitter has 100 million users – and they are now monetizing through advertising. But they have plenty of opportunities to monetize in ways that don’t exist yet.

    For sure, no one disregards a network of 100m people.

    The point you make about being surprised by who read your blog is a good one. The thing about “Social” is that it is like scattering seeds – you throw out the message, and you never know who catches it. As per:

  19. Issy says:

    Mr Rose. as requested, Here’s a link to a site which has a load of tips on making your social media work. Yeah, I know it’s about a wedding blog, but it’s about the best wedding blog in the US that actually employs a whole team of people and is beautiful to boot:

  20. James says:

    I am very excited about you taking this path Mr Rose! Let me know if you need anything! Bless ya’ll!


  21. Tom G says:

    21 and familiar with the term social media, meaning blogs, twitter, facebook, myspace, discussion boards etc. Traditional media do not like social media. Social media and it’s varied uses seem to get frequently discussed in Rory Cellan-Jones blog at the BBC. IMO it mostly is just people pontificating about stuff they are interested in, it’s a fad, and people will tire of it within a few years. But then I am a hardened cynic of these things 🙂

  22. Michael Stickland says:

    Scott Gould – I searched for how many Twitter users there are and found an estimate of 75 million (but that was few months old so considering the growth rate 100 million would seem reasonable). However, it also said that under 15 million Twitter accounts are actually active, I think that’s based on something like users that have posted during the last month, which is a pretty low level of activity. Perhaps there are loads of users who just browse and don’t post.

    Although a website with 15 million users is undoubtably significant, I still feel that Twitter gets a lot more coverage in the media (both old and new) than the user base deserves, because of the high correlation between active users (i.e. publishers) of both. By deserves I mean in comparison with other online companies or media outlets with similar client bases. That paragraph could probably have been simplied had I succumbed to phrases such as “twitterati”.

    Were social media platforms ran purely as profit making businesses, I think most of the entrepreneurs would be better off selling off during their exponential growth phase, when they can talk lots about future revenues before they’ve necessarily worked out how to do so. Few thus far have successfully monetised their business. I’m thankful that they haven’t been sold off early on though as most ways of making money from websites are generally irritating for users. My cynical side suggests that megalomaniac tendencies of website entrepreneurs might have a larger impact on them not selling out early on than their loyalty to their consumers.

  23. Lisa says:

    Age 32.

    At your request Jonny Big-V Rose, I am replying, though am afraid I am definitely NOT a social media expert. Haven’t a clue what javascript is. Facebook is the only thing I use, and as far as I’d go. Personally, I’d rather meet up with someone face-to-face than talk to them over the internet/ post things accessible to a countless number of people…

    Is 23 too old to learn social media? Well, I don’t know 23 is is getting on a bit you know…

    Hope the job/internship is going well! 🙂

  24. Luke says:


    Off hand, I’d say that social media consists of mainly online mediums like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Blogs etc. where your avergage joe can react and respond and also add to whatever the conent may be. i.e. news, an opinion, an advert, or just as a way of interacting with others.

    Businesses are clearly making use of it, look at all the interactive adverts on FB and Youtube, companies advertising or showcasing their products, as are politicians for that matter, Twitter is awash with people airing their thoughts for people to respond to… (but I have to say twitter is one that I don’t get and don’t use).

    Thats what comes to my mind anyhow!x

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