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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, June 16, 2024

Student startup offers consulting in social media marketing, sees success

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Jen Gewant is the founder of a new consulting company called IT'SOCIAL.

As students, we may be social media savvy, but many small businesses are lagging behind. These companies are prime clients for IT'SOCIAL, a social media marketing company founded by junior Jennifer Gewant that has recently taken off. 

Gewant, who is majoring in economics and minoring in communications and media studies, founded IT’SOCIAL Social Media Marketing LLC in February. Since then, she has consulted seven clients on establishing, developing and maintaining their social media presences, and has taken on several interns to help expand her business.

“People are starting to feel like if it’s not online it doesn’t exist," Gewant said. "So I kind of help [companies] found [their] whole online identity.”

She was inspired to start the company in part by the ExCollege class called PR and Marketing: Unraveling the Spin. Gail Bambrick, Tufts' senior marketing communications writer, taught the class, which examines marketing techniques used today, as well as how the field has evolved.

“It’s really seeped into our culture -- our mythologies and beliefs are very much promoted through advertising in many, many ways," Bambrick said. "So a lot of the ways we think, or decisions we make, from politics to buying a car, are influenced by these people.”

According to Bambrick, her students are required to design a marketing plan for a product, company or person of their choice. Gewant and her group decided to promote Gewant’s aunt’s jewelry company, Aran Rose Designs.

Gewant has also used social media to promote 180 Degrees Consulting, of which she is the vice president of Tufts' branch and  regional director of communications.The group works with non-profits and social enterprises to solve problems such as expanding donor bases. 

Gewant used Twitter to reach out to potential clients and other social media sites to recruit new members for 180 Degrees. This fall, 130 students applied for 30 available spots.

“I was like, wow, Twitter is a really great tool,” Gewant said. “This could be a great instrument for not even just my organization, but other organizations, to find clients and customers.”

Two months after coming up with the idea of founding IT’SOCIAL in December, Gewant filed it as a Limited Liability Corporation in New York State. Her parents were both supportive of the idea and her mother is currently acting as Chief Financial Officer.

Typically, Gewant's consultations last six to eight weeks. She begins by doing some background research on her client and performing an audience and competitive analysis before their first meeting. The client decides which of her ideas he likes, and Gewant works to implement them, usually by either setting up an online presence or curating content for existing platforms. She then trains the client to maintain what she has designed.

One of Gewant’s favorite aspects of IT’SOCIAL is the experience she gains with a variety of different industries.

“People who need IT’SOCIAL are small business owners who are older, who realize the need for social media and an online presence or an online brand, an online identity," she said. "With that need comes hairdressers, restaurant owners, bike shops, comic book shops -- so many miscellaneous things that suddenly I need to become an expert in and curate content for their social media sites. I love that and it’s fun for me.”

Gewanthas four unpaid interns working with her to help further develop her company. They work on maintaining the company’s blog, as well as its own social media sites. Junior Ping Ni has been working for IT’SOCIAL since June, in part because she is interested in pursuing consulting as a career.

“We’re a small company, so it’s important all of our social media is up to speed," Ni said. "So all of the interns are assigned a social media page, and we all post because it would be too much if [Gewant] was posting on all five platforms several times a day.”

According to Ni, Gewant is aiming to have one client a month during the school year. In the future, however, Gewant said she hopes to be able to hire consultants that she would oversee and she is also considering incorporating media literacy education into her company.

Personally, Gewant is unsure whether or not she wants to go into marketing as a career.

“I’m at a point in my life right now where I love everything that I do, and that's exciting for me. I’m trying to come up with the crossroads for everything I do, and I think it’s consulting,” Gewant said. “[It's] defining a problem, coming up with a strategy [and] implementing that strategy to find the solution.”

Bambrick is excited about Gewant’s prospects moving forward.

“[Gewant] has just the kind of mind that is good in this field, because she’s very detail-oriented and analytic," she said. "She understands the importance of that, and at the same time she’s wildly creative. She knows how to think outside the box. And a lot of [marketing] today, because we’re so jammed with so many things, is getting it to stand out. She really understands that.”