Don't farm out social media to your intern

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Published: July 15 2012 | 4:59 am - Updated: 31 March 2014 | 9:44 pm in

We’ve all heard it before. Or, heaven forbid, you might’ve actually said it yourself: “Let’s have the intern get us started on social media.”

Worse still are those that — for the most part jokingly — suggest that their high-school-aged niece should do it as “she’s on Facebook all the time.”

Though it sounds blissfully simple and pain-free this is an extremely misguided approach.

Why It’s Not

Entrusting the launch of your brand on a new platform solely to an intern is troublesome for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the biggest is the same step most miss in launching a social media strategy — establishing clear and measurable business objectives.

Social media may seem like a crazy new thing that looks more like something your intern or niece would do, but it’s not.

It’s a marketing channel that’s disrupted the previous way of doing things such as e-Commerce, TV and radio did to the mediums that preceded them.

As a marketer, you need to put on your big boy (or big girl) pants and tackle this issue head on. As with all new marketing initiatives, it involves a strategy around which you create tactics and measurable outcomes.

From here, you analyze your results and make course corrections as needed.

That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? It should sound a lot like your other marketing programs.

However, what’s different is that this new frontier of social media is unlike other marketing channels as it’s multidirectional. Unlike traditional advertising, social media marketing is a 1:1 conversation between your brand and the marketplace.

This is an incredible opportunity that must be leveraged.

While this seems like a good fit for your workload, it should be painfully obvious that your interns shouldn’t build this from scratch.

But that’s not to say that they can’t help ....

How Interns Can Help with Social Media

If any interns are still reading after rolling their eyes at my first couple paragraphs, this is the part you’ll like. While interns alone shouldn’t be responsible for mapping your social media strategy, they can certainly help out as you head down the path.

Working with your organization’s marketing leaders, your intern can both learn more about your business and apply his or her social media insights as digital natives to your objectives.

With your vision for what your business needs from social media, your intern may be able to point you to a new Facebook feature or a niche network such as Instagram.

Your interns also can help you out tactically. With guidance on your strategy and a firm grasp of your brand’s voice, an intern can help execute your social presence — after all, you can’t send every tweet yourself.

Plus, an intern can be a useful “floater” as you evaluate the long-term staff resources you’ll need to allocate to social media.

More than implying that interns can’t handle social media or that they shouldn’t be trusted without a grown-up watching, this is a call for leadership not to dismiss social media as a trivial side project. Bring it holistically into the fold.

Are you ready to lead your organization’s social media revolution?

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