The Story

So You Live Social Media

Running a digital advertising agency as a college student was pretty simple – my team and I grew up with the internet and ways to integrate it within customers’ businesses came naturally to us.  Often times, clients welcomed our age, feeling that since we were young we had a better grasp on the type of messaging that people want to interact with (and I like to think this is true).  But every now and then a potential client would come along and think that since we’re young, we’re not professional enough to run a social media campaign.  They’d cite our generation’s txt talk and constant stream of food and party pics.

Those concerns are unfounded when the whole business is just running social media campaigns.  But what about when you’re running your own outlets?

Don’t Confuse Voice for Immaturity

A lot of student start-ups want to, and should, leverage the fact that they’re young.  Theoretically, since they aren’t steeped in the practices of the industry they’re working in yet, they have a completely fresh outlook and that leads to greater innovation.  So keeping the voice of your business young is important.  It’s who you are.  But that can sometimes get student businesses into trouble.

I’ve seen posts that these businesses have shared with pictures of them at a trade show (great!) and then the caption is something like “Woo! Free popcorn at the show! lol”.  So your friends back at the dorm will think that’s funny.  The people who are your potential clients – will not.  Drop the “lol” and convey the humor you’re trying to get at through normal words.  Something like “Wow.  Free popcorn at the show?  We need to come to these more often!”.  Boom.  (And you also demonstrate a commitment to the industry which is something that those potential clients will definitely pick up on, either consciously or subconsciously.)

Don’t Let Things Stagnate

Between classes, homework and your startup, sometimes you don’t get around to posting as often as you’d like.  For some businesses, a few posts a month is fine.  But for others, you have to keep reminding your customers and potential customers that you’re alive.  Use something to schedule your posts (Facebook now offers this in their status bar) or use your downtime between classes to send something out.

More importantly than avoiding a stagnant timeline, though, is making sure that you’re replying to your customers.  A lot of the time, they’ll turn to your social media outlets for a direct line in to you to voice a complaint, a worry, or a compliment.  Don’t let bad-will get worse or good-will towards your brand go unnoticed.  Make sure to always reply to customer feedback as soon as you can.  If it doesn’t seem like it’s going to go the way you want, as them to get on the phone or send you an email so that what follows isn’t public.

Don’t Be Tooooo Transparent

What I mean is don’t be too transparent about your schooling on your social media outlets.

Your clients and followers want to support you.  And if, one on one, you talk to them about your upcoming midterms and why you’ll need to push a deadline back or whatever, that’s great.  Relationships like those are imperative to your success as a collegiate businessperson.  But your social media isn’t a place to post about how you and your team is taking the week off for midterms.

Going back to my first point, being young is good.  Use it to your advantage.  But there’s a catch – don’t remind people you are students.  At least not unless you have that great relationship with them.  They don’t mind if they’re service provider is young, and it’s good to let them know upfront that you’re still in college.  But unless you really have to, don’t remind them.  Every time you do, that little voice in the back of their head that said hiring a kid in school was a bad idea from the start wakes up.  And we don’t like that voice.


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About Author

Nate started Yellow Box Studios, a digital advertising agency based in Chicago, in 2010 as a high school senior. He's graduated from the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign with a degree in Creative Writing and is currently working on a Masters in advertising, also at the University of Illinois.