Yesterday, an article from INC entitled 11 Reasons a 23 Year Old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media popped up in my Facebook newsfeed. It was posted by a friend who, out of school, was hired to run social media for a startup. She commented along the lines of: “I guess it might be time to throw in the towel.”
This article really pissed me off for a number of reasons, even though it had disclaimers at the beginning. The graphic accompanying the article itself is a photo that could’ve been out of Mean Girls, showing two catty girls gossipping. After reading the article, I scrolled down and was not surprised to find it was written by a lady who runs a digital marketing firm. A ha! I thought. No wonder. I’ve seen this before…just plain FUD.
Here’s my response….a 25 year old who ran social media for a startup for 3 years, who hired and fired several agencies because they just didn’t make the cut. Oh and disclaimer…not every firm is like the one I’m describing, but I just want to make a point.
1) They’re not on your team – As a firm, the agency you hired has one goal: do the minimal amount of work to get the job done. I mean come on: they have many other clients to please. To scale their business they need new clients and happy retained old clients. They are happy when you don’t really pay attention to what is going on. If you hire a young person to join your team, he/she will want to please the company as they want to progress their career and have a great recommendation when it’s time to move on.
2) They don’t really know what’s happening at your company – Sure, you may have regular update calls but do you remember to update them on every single little thing happening at the company? Things that may not seem important actually are: hiring someone new and welcoming them through social media is one example. A young person doing social media at your company can be like a fly on the wall, absorbing information and sharing with the world in a real time manner.
3) They are not physically there – Are they there when everyone pulls a prank on the CEO or a customer stops by to take a picture with the team? The glory of social media its ability to show progress in real time…something a young person on your team can capture and post instantly.
4) They are expensive – You can hire someone (especially in this economy) for a lot cheaper than engaging a digital marketing/social media agency. Young people are hungry for experience and are willing to live off of ramen to be part of something cool. This is not a stereotype…I know plenty of young folks who gave up lucrative jobs out of top schools for the ability to have a more meaningful, interesting experience (I did). Luckily for your budget, social media falls into that realm.
5) They are not as willing to learn – Someone who is just out of college is used to learning. They understand they don’t have experience but are willing to hear you out, try hard, and adjust willingly. Unfortunately, firms tend to have policies and procedures in place that are “just how it’s done.” They may be willing to budge a bit but hey you know what….they know better because they do this for a living damnit. This kind of mentality is super detrimental in any company, but especially a startup.
6) Their goals are not in line with yours – The goal of an agency is to have happy clients who keep paying monthly fees. The goal of your social media is to get the most bang out of your buck and grow your following/audience online. Who do you think will accomplish this more?
7) They may not understand your business – One of the firms we hired never took the time to actually understand what my startup was doing. It was a little complicated (in the payments space) and throughout the entire time we engaged them, they kept talking about it in different ways, trying to mold it into something they could understand. A young person who does your social media will absolutely understand what you do, because that is their job.
I could keep going on and on making the point that an agency will not be as invested in your company’s success, not be as flexible and willing to work long and hard, etc etc, but you know what….I have to go run social media for my startup.