Probably my biggest competition for Social Media business is “The College Kid.” Many potential opportunities have slipped through my fingers by unsuccessfully articulating the value of a Social Media professional with an MBA over a college kid. The burden of that outcome rests squarely on my shoulders. When doing my SWOT analysis, I didn’t give “the college kid” enough clout.
Why the college kid is appealing
First and foremost, “the college kid” is cheap. There is no doubt that the cost of hiring a college kid to “do” Social Media for you is less than what we (Devine + Powers) would charge. This is a clear advantage for “the college kid.”
The second reason is that kids coming out of college these days have grown up around Social Media. It’s in their blood, their DNA. Building websites, Twitter accounts and Fan Pages is like second nature to them. To you, Avatar is just a movie, to them it also means profile picture. Naturally the assumption is that they know what they are doing.
So why shouldn’t you hire a college student
Just because you can use a telephone doesn’t mean you are qualified to run a call center. GM Shareholders wouldn’t hire a race-car driver to run GM. Knowing how to USE something isn’t the same thing as understanding it’s value and function.
Many college students think “targeting” is something you only do in Call of Duty: Black Ops and “segmentation” is what you do with an orange.
Social Media is fun for “the college kid” but to a business, this is serious work. The person managing your community is an ambassador of your brand. Think of your social media staff as “community managers” and “strategists” instead of “the person who updates Facebook.” If you take it more seriously, you can expect more serious results.
As the saying goes “you get what you pay for.”
Why you should hire a college student
Hire a college student when you already have your strategy in place.
Hire a college student when you need enthusiasm, execution and creative thinking but all within clearly defined guidelines.
Hire that college student when you already have an internal policy and oversight.
Or hire that college student because you think everything that I just wrote is BS. I promise I won’t say “I told you so,” but you might get a link to this blog post.
UPDATE: I wanted to clarify that “the college kid” in this post is referring to the notion that “any ole college kid” can do it because they already know how to use Facebook and Twitter. There are some brilliant students that could probably rock as a Social Media professional. This post is not meant to infer that all college kids lack value.