10 Reasons why your intern shouldn’t be doing your social media marketing

July 7th, 2010 No Comments

YouTube is five years old. Facebook is six years old. The under-30 crowd grew up with technology and are “Digital Natives.” I first had a computer when I was six years old and those just out of college probably had a computer in their house from the day they were born and were on Facebook in high school. The natural facility with today’s technology is one of the great advantages that Generation Y and the Millenials bring to the workplace.

Far too often, though, because of that generation gap and technological divide, the older management-level (including older marketing teams) are inclined to ignore what is – to them – new and difficult technology and leave their social media and online marketing activities to an intern or recent college graduate. This is a common but serious mistake that companies are beginning to make.

10. Social Media is the New Communication Channel. Facebook has over 400 million active users worldwide. We do research on Wikipedia and post our photos to Flickr. YouTube is the new MTV and CNN is one of the most popular accounts on Twitter. We read the news online, through RSS and blogs and not on paper. This is not going away. First there were smoke signals, then the newspaper, radio, and television and the Web. Today is the digital age with social networks, mobile, iPads, etc.

9. The Internet is here to stay. Don’t listen to Prince, who recently said that “The internet’s completely over.  I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else.” iTunes and its successors will be here. Prince won’t be if he chooses to ignore it.

8. Not Just Working 9-5. Dolly Parton may have just worked 9-5 but your social media efforts shouldn’t. Social Media isn’t a temporary, 20 hr. a week type of deal. It’s a 24-7/365 job. I will frequently log into clients’ social media accounts on Saturday night and throughout the weekend to see if there’s a conversation that needs immediate response or update with the latest news. In a breaking news cycle, you might need to be talking to the public online in the middle of the night. Recently, during a breaking news event, I was responding to the news for a client until midnight. An intern wouldn’t do that.

7. Who are your cheerleaders – Who are your brand’s biggest fans? Odds are it’s not a summer intern who is just working for you for a few months, doesn’t truly know your company inside and out, and has no plans to stay on.  Your cheerleader might be the 45-year-old working for your firm for the past decade who goes to every company picnic. It might also be the 29-year-old, with a few years of experience and both a technical facility and research knowledge. They identify with your brand. Not your intern who is looking for the next best thing.

6. Accountability Your intern is gone after August. You can’t really fire your intern – who won’t be around anyway. Things do happen. People do say inappropriate things online. While this can be prevented with a social media policy, your staff are accountable – they want to keep their job. Your intern? Not so much.

5. Crossing Silos – Social media integrates many different functions. Marketing, customer service, public relations, Human Resources, and more. Can your intern handle these multiple functions or will they be taken seriously by more senior staff members in another department? Depending on your organization, you need someone handling your social media channels that can work with other departments and cross-teams.

4. Long-term momentum – It takes time to build a brand online. You can’t just start and stop. HubSpot has reported that it takes at least 50 blog posts before you start seeing leads from your blog. It takes time to build a community. But come September and your intern’s outta there! You have to build relationships, slowly but effectively and 3 months just isn’t enough! If you are going to take it seriously – which you must – you need to invest in it long-term!

3. It’s more than just status updating – A huge misconception about social media marketing and community management is that all you do is update your status on Facebook and send out a few tweets. If you think that, well, better start getting trained in social media marketing management now.  Social media marketing is a part of a holistic approach to strategic marketing. Do you really want them interacting with top-tier journalists? Just because you know how to change your status update or create a Facebook page doesn’t make you a marketer any more than being able to read a newspaper makes you a journalist or kick a ball makes you a football player.

2. Business and Communications – Social media marketing is a part of a holistic approach to strategic marketing. Does your intern know your marketing plan. Do you want them writing it for you? Social media is a marketing function. To do it right, you should know business and marketing. Does that mean you necessarily need a business degree or MBA? Not anymore than anyone else in your firm, but a couple of years of experience in  your industry and business knowledge will help place your digital marketing efforts in the appropriate business functions.

1. This is your brand – Are you going to leave your brand management, its public presentation, and how people look at you to someone whose name you don’t even know? If that’s how you think of your brand than expect others to view it the same way. If you don’t value your brand, no one else will.

So what can your intern do? Perhaps they can analyze a bit of what you are doing. They can write and assist and research and help. You might be able to learn from them – but don’t leave your core asset – your brand – and your future growth areas just to an inexperienced intern.

Interns picture licensed under Creative Commons http://www.flickr.com/photos/yodelanecdotal/662775832/

Social media silo picture CC 2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/7855449@N02/4712815871/

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