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Manage Your Marketing: Social Media and the Intern Issue

4698410407_c81848b8bf_mQuite often, when we talk to companies about beginning to use social media marketing, we are told that they would really love to, but they just don’t see how they can incorporate that much extra time into what they are already doing. From there, regularly, we hear, “Maybe at some point we could hire an intern to do social media for us.”

Unfortunately, this seems to be a common sentiment among businesses. Twitter and Facebook especially are worlds where the young reign supreme. “It’s that chat thing,” we hear companies say about Twitter. “Why do we need to talk about what we had for dinner?” say still others.

If you work for a company that is expressing this kind of thinking, hit the pause button! Factually, hiring an intern to “do your social media” can create more harm than good for your company. Let’s talk a little about why.

Social Media represents your company

Your brand, how your company works, how your company treats your customers, and what your company stands for all can be gleaned from your social media presence. Even if you hire an intern who is a great communicator and who “gets” social media, they are going to need time to really become enmeshed in your company’s culture. For starters, they are going to need to learn your product line. They are going to need to learn what your customers or clients are like and how you prefer to interact with your customers and prospects. Moreover, you may find that as you try to pass along these types of information to your intern, your company hasn’t really solidified any of these points. Do you want an intern figuring it all out on the fly on public social media platforms?

Building relationships *is* important

Even though you are likely hoping that your social media marketing efforts will increase sales, relationship-building is still a key to social media success. Whoever handles your social media marketing will bring with them their own distinct way of communicating, even as they communicate on behalf of your company. They will build credibility (hopefully) over time. If you rotate this task amongst several different interns over a certain period of time, it will probably be difficult for people to feel that they are talking to one cohesive company, especially if the styles of those interns varies widely.

Training takes time

If you have ever trained someone for a marketing task – regardless of what it might be, you know that it takes a lot of time. If you are training a person who is going to be responsible for your social media presence, you need to cover important details like how to react to a negative comment, how to balance promotion with other sorts of interactions, and more. It’s entirely possible that by the time you finish truly training this intern, their time with you will be up and you will have to start all over again. In this scenario, even though you are aware your company is short on time, you are spending more time training than it would take to begin to build the social media presence yourself.

Social Media often is compared to a telephone. The only difference is that many people can “call” you at one time, and the ways in which you respond may differ slightly from person to person. Because phonecalls are not public (or so we think) you may feel more comfortable letting an intern begin to answer the phones rather quickly. You can listen in, correct mistakes, and take over if things get hairy. Social Media is communication at a more advanced level. It is not just talking about “what I ate for dinner.” There is an art to it, especially if you are a business.

Consider carefully whether an intern is the right person to handle your social media presence. Don’t think about the actions of tweeting or updating a Facebook page. Think about what your objectives are and who best can work towards those objectives.

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathanwells/4698410407/ via Creative Commons


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