It’s That Time of Year Again – Summer Interns Directing the Social Media Program of Many Businesses

Every year at this time companies, often small businesses or owners that do not understand social media themselves, hand over the reins to their social media program to their intern. After all, if you are twenty-something, you must be a social media expert. At least that seems to be the thought process along with the money you can save because they are far less expensive than a business professional with experience in the work world.

And if you look at some company social pages, you may notice a large, dormant period of time with no social media activity…about the same amount of time that the intern has been gone and back to school.

It’s easy to forget that there is so much more to social media than simply posting and “doing social media”. Your brand is connected to these efforts and that often gets lost in all this.

Things to consider when you are thinking about assigning an intern to direct your social media program: 

  • Social_Media_StrategyAn intern is looking to learn from you and other employees when they take on this internship. This is their first “real” job. If you cannot answer questions on social media or do not understand it yourself, the intern should not be the keeper of the social media program keys.
  • Have you fully trained the intern on your brand, in its entirety, from beginning to end? If not, the intern should not be the keeper of the social media program keys.
  • Do you have a social media plan already designed/created by experienced marketers or experienced employees in your company, in which the implementation tasks are clearly defined? If not, the intern should not be the keeper of the social media program keys.
  • Do you have a defined social media policy, clearly stating what can and cannot be done in order to follow your brand guidelines? If not, the intern should not be the keeper of the social media program keys.
  • Have you defined the qualifications of a perfect social media manager to be – 1.) They are young, 2.) They have a lot of friends/followers/connections, and 3.) They know how to post? If these are your key reasons for their complete qualification, the intern should not be the keeper of the social media program keys.  
  • Do they understand the complete marketing plan, business plan and all the business goals of the company overall and how this segment of the marketing plan will contribute to the goals? If they do not have any way of knowing these things, the intern should not be the keeper of the social media program keys.
  • Would you ask your intern to be the head person in charge of your sales program, lead generation program, PR program, business plan, brand development and the lead in meeting with clients? If the answer is not no to all of these questions, the intern should not be the keeper of the social media program keys.

your brand online reputation managementTake the opportunity to learn the technology and the “how to” aspects of social media from your intern, while you have the chance. Take the time to review the company goals and plans and work on the strategy of your social media program together. But do not merely hand over the reins and say “run with it”.

Your brand is much more valuable than that and your intern deserves a great learning experience.

Here are some good articles on the subject:

Please contact Anna Brice at Pinnacle Peak Marketing, Scottsdale AZ about Marketing for Small/Medium Business.

Phone: 480-661-0292


5 Replies to “It’s That Time of Year Again – Summer Interns Directing the Social Media Program of Many Businesses”

  1. Hi Anne,

    Thanks for the link! and you totally nailed the reasons that someone should consider before putting an intern on their social media program. IMO, many companies do not understand the damage that can be done to a brand when there are huge gaps in their social media presence, as well as if the content does not correspond with the customer, thus not meeting the customer’s needs. Not all social media needs to be young and hip. What it needs to be is conversational. From there it goes to leads and then conversion 🙂

    1. Hi Tish,

      Thanks for reading! Too many businesses don’t yet “get” social media so they think intern because they do it in their everyday life. But there is a big difference between knowing how to do it vs. knowing why/what/where to do it (strategy, goals, cohesive with marketing plan and business plan/goals etc). I can’t tell you how many times I heard exactly what you said in your article — “why should I pay you and I am sure you are worth it but I could get a college kid for $10/hr”. There are so many other aspects of their business that they would never turn over to a college kid…why this?

      1. I’ve thought a lot about that “why kids?” question and it may come down to a few factors. First, we know the cheap factor. Second, if it goes wrong, it’s easy to throw a kid under the bus, so to say. I’ve seen that with a couple of big companies before they took social seriously. Third, kids will just naturally and enthusiastically take on the additional work of social because they already know it. and Fourth: they already know it, so they won’t need to be trained. all of these are huge false assumptions based on the business owner or marketing manager’s own prejudices. In my early consulting days I actually had business owners question how I could know so much since I wasn’t a kid! This was because they didn’t know much about social and used their lack of experience to measure others in their same age group. We are still fighting a lot of ignorance, that’s for sure.

      2. These are great thoughts Tish. I think the cost is the leading factor. And when you are paying an outsource marketing resource, there is the subconscious feeling that there is a heavy cost because the business must write a check to pay for the specific service. When it’s an internal resource managing the process, issuing a paycheck vs paying for a specific service is painless (at least subconsciously) and the marketing activity in question feels like there is no cost to it and in essence, it’s “free”. Plus I really think there is the pervading thought that this channel is a fad. I constantly point out that this is a viable marketing channel that cannot be ignored, because your competitors are surely engaging…especially if you are not. And last — with the lack of understanding on what this really is, many feel “as long as we are set up”, then we are doing social media. They do not understand that having your last update be November 2012 and your next post be May 2013 is actually a very bad thing.

      3. Good points Anna. It’s tough to believe (for some of us) that a big part of our job remains education of potential clients. But there it is. One good thing is that we have a whole lot more surveys and studies to help the education process.

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