Is Hiring An Intern Social Media Suicide?

You don’t have the time to dedicate to staying active on social media.  You don’t have the budget to hire a full time employee or contractor to take over your accounts,but you know doing social media could really help your company.  Is hiring an intern social media suicide?

Sound familiar?

In this scenario, it would make the most sense to just hand off your social media accounts to your office intern to manage.

But wait… isn’t hiring an intern social media suicide?   Nope! Not if you go about doing it the right way.

In the past, interns have gotten a bad rep in the marketing community and many business owners frown upon outsourcing their online brands – especially to twenty-somethings. But just like any hiring situation, you must weigh the pros and cons of each job position you need to fill and the proper candidates for the role.

Based on my experience training interns to help small business owners expand their online presence, I have broken down some quick, high-level points for you to keep in mind…

The Pros 

Your intern comes from a tech savvy generation:

Now, every situation is different, but odds are, your intern knows their way around a computer and smart phone. More than likely, they have been using tech instruments since they were toddlers and can send a Tweet with their eyes shut. Combine this skill with their youthful mind and you have yourself a quick learner that will be able to understand the mechanics behind your social media strategy and will catch on to the world of Facebook Analytics, Hootsuite, and Google+ quickly – Which will be a huge time saver for you!

Your intern is eager to learn:

And eager to please. Your intern’s time at your company is a stepping stone in their career path, so they are going to take every moment with you as a learning opportunity. In addition, your intern will more than likely be looking for a letter of recommendation from you after they leave your company and will want to put their best foot forward in their work. As a result, you can feel safe knowing that they will be doing the best job they can to properly represent your brand online.

Your intern has a youthful energy that is contagious online:

More than likely, your intern is young and full of spirit and enthusiasm about their work. In addition, they know all the fun online lingo that spreads like wildfire on social media platforms. Use this to your advantage and have a brainstorming session with your interns on ways to be more engaging and personal online. This trait of your intern’s can work especially towards your advantage if you are trying to connect with a younger audience online and just can’t seem to break that barrier!

The Cons :

Your intern hasn’t used social media for professional use:

Sure, your intern has their own Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook account to connect with their friends and family. But there is a big difference between personal and professional social media use. When using social media for professional use, social media managers must stick to a consistent voice and content strategy, controversial opinions must be kept to a minimum, professionalism must always be intact, and analytics come into play. This is probably all new for your intern, so they will need to be appropriately trained on how to represent your brand with a professional voice online.

Your intern isn’t sticking around for the long haul:

More than likely, your intern is only at your company for the summer or for the school year. So what’s the point of getting them caught up to speed on running your social media account like a “rockstar”, only to have them pack up and leave in a few months? Well, with the right training in place, you will be able to get them caught up to speed quickly and will have a solid transition system in place to hand off your brand’s social media expertise to another employee or incoming intern.

Having weighed all the pros and cons, it is important to keep an open and positive mind when it comes to hiring an intern to manage your online marketing strategy – all while considering the potential risks upfront. By understanding what you are up against, you will be able to take the proper risk management steps right out of the gates to ensure that your intern is sufficiently trained and ready to successfully represent your brand online. With the proper precautions, you can save time, money, and your sanity by hiring an intern to manage your social media – without the fear of brand suicide on the horizon!

Meg Rulli

Meg Rulli is the co-founder of Sticky Marketing, where she helps small companies stand out and express their personalities online. Their MarketingMinds social media training course prepares interns to professionally represent their employer’s brand online, strategically design social media campaigns, and build online communities for their company.

5 Comments

  1. Ryan Biddulph 28-12-2013 at 6:57 am - Reply

    Meg, the long haul approach is so telling. Keen point here. Get committed people on board and when interns do move on intend to find someone who might just see the long term potential. Some might have that vision. Thanks!

    • Meg 30-12-2013 at 9:25 am - Reply

      Thanks for commenting Ryan. A long-term strategy with your social media is a must and it is important that everyone on board with social media management of your brand has that vision in mind. Glad we could connect!

  2. Josh St. Aubin 04-01-2014 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    I think it all depends on what level of ownership we’re talking about. I definitely see the upside that interns are very savvy but I want my best people that know my brand inside and out handling my clients the same way I would directly. Not to be left to a part-time or new person that hasn’t been fully immersed in our philosophies and culture.

    • Shane Barker 07-02-2014 at 11:29 am - Reply

      I totally agree with you Josh! It is important to have a certain level of comfort with an any intern or employee before you give them full control of your social media presence.

  3. Stuart Davidson 30-01-2014 at 8:47 am - Reply

    I loved this piece Meg!

    I included it in my content awards for best digital marketing articles, congrats 😀

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