• Stephanie Long

Article: Don't Outsource Your Online Identity

Social media is an incredibly powerful and dynamic tool. Regardless of the business you’re in, your customers can be found and reached through these online platforms. This makes marketing via social media essential – a fact that successful business owners today understand and build into their communications strategies.

What is less understood is how to effectively harness the power of these tools within your business. This is understandable since this new and rapidly changing space can be a challenge to navigate. As a business owner, your inbox is likely full of solicitations from gurus, wizards, and experts in social media marketing. Some are better than others, but often the best solution is to bring someone in-house.

Managing your social media presence means creating and disseminating content over Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and, if appropriate, Instagram. It also means communicating with people through these channels and driving positive reviews on sites like Yelp and Google.

For the large majority of small businesses, this starts at around a five-hour-per-week job. However, it’s an important one that needs to be done by someone who understands your brand, your voice, and your values. The likelihood of an outside agency, with hundreds or thousands of clients, truly understanding your business and being invested in its success is marginal.

How do you find someone willing to work just minimal hours per week? If all you are seeking is help with social media alone, an internship could be a win-win solution. Social media marketing can be an ideal opportunity for an undergraduate marketing student studying the evolving world of digital media communications. Students will be excited to put into practice the skills they’ve been developing, and you’ll have a knowledgeable social media expert in-house. (1)

Having someone who represents your business in the digital world physically in your building has a distinct advantage. Ongoing, in-person communication with your social media intern will help accurately portray who you are as well as your target audience. You’ll also gain a more complete understanding of the communications tactics and how they impact your business.

Having an in-house social media intern will help establish an online presence that comes across as genuine and authentic. Often, when a small business employs a social media marketing agency, the material is formulaic and generic. It’s almost always too “safe;” it doesn’t stand out in a crowded landscape, resulting in ineffective outreach efforts. Working with an in-house intern, even for a few hours a week, can help you craft a unique online brand.

All of that said, if you're needing someone to manage your online presence with little to no hand-holding, you may be better served by creating a marketing position, in lieu of an internship. This is especially true if you need marketing help beyond just social media. Someone with little or no experience will need guidance and oversight, as s/he learns the ropes. If you need someone who can work on your social media strategy and implementation independently, it's wise to choose someone with experience.

As the old saying goes, "You get what you pay for!" Only you know for sure how much time you have to actively oversee an intern, versus paying someone to take the reigns on social. Whichever option you choose, this position has a much better chance of success if handled in-house.

The business world is constantly changing with the impact of social media being one of the most disruptive and powerful forces propelling that change. Be smart in building and maintaining your social media presence by employing, training, and developing a social media outreach intern, or hiring someone who is already experienced, if you have little time for oversight and development.

(1) It’s important to understand and obey the labor laws of your state and country in regards to internships, as well as the regulations and requirements of the university if the internship is intended to earn college credits. Offering at least minimum wage for just a few hours a week will help you assure you stay on the right side of the law.

#socialmediastrategy #businessconsulting #paidvsunpaid #internvsemployee #onlineidentity

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