A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reading a post by Nick Stamoulis here on WeBlogBetter titled Should You Let An Intern Manage Your Social Media Marketing?
In the article Mr. Stamoulis summizes that the cons of hiring an intern to “handle” your social media marketing (he cites “Flake” factor, limited experience, and no long term commitment to your company) far outweigh the pros (being comfortable with social media and cheap labor).
Mr. Stamoulis then goes on to suggest that the best person to handle your social media marketing could be anyone in your marketing department: specifically your PR person, in-house SEO expert, or your copywriter.
I’m not sure about many readers of this blog, but my company doesn’t have any of those people on staff. I’m the copywriter, my business partner does the PR, and we split the SEO duties.
By assuming that our readers have those 3 positions inside their marketing department, why wouldn’t they have a social media manager as well?
Mr Stamoulis’s advice is perfect for a medium or large sized company that as has all 3 job functions; but then again, a company with those 3 positions (especially an “in-house SEO expert”) should have the payroll & resources to hire a full time social media manager. (As a side note, I’d love to find a company that has their own full time in-house SEO expert but no social media manager).
What Mr. Stamoulis fails to recognize is that the majority of businesses today don’t have these types of resources. Furthermore, after reading many of the great posts and comments on WeBlogBetter, it seems to me as though the blog is geared towards helping small business owners and bloggers be more successful.
How many of those people have the 3 staff members (in house SEO expert, PR team and copywriter) on staff full time? I suspect very few.
In a perfect world, social media would be handled by the owner of the company, because they have the ultimate voice and vision of the business. But that’s not always going to be possible.
So I’ll turn this post around and provide you with ideas on how interns can actually be positive contributors to your social media efforts.
1. Bring your intern along slowly: I would hope that no one would turn over their Twitter account or Facebook Fanpage administration to their brand new intern. Make sure that your intern understands your niche, your business, your target audience, your products & services, and your corporate culture & messaging. Once they do, then you can start to assign them specific tasks to help you grow your social media platform.
2. Have you intern start a “clipping” service. We’ll have a social media intern start out by signing up for Google Alerts. We’ll have them pick the top keywords in our industry, along with our company name, and our domain name. This allows us to not only monitor what’s being said about our company and our website, but also allows us to read great content and articles in our niche, which make for perfect “Tweets.” This allows the intern to quickly learn about our company, our industry and current events surrounding our industry.
3. Speaking of Twitter, now that our social media intern is finding great content for us to share with our followers, we want them focused on building our followers, increasing our interaction & growing our reach on Twitter. This includes finding new followers, monitoring Twitter for real time conversations that we want to contribute to, monitoring @ replies, and “Re-Tweeting” other helpful/useful content.
4. On YouTube, a social network in its own right, our interns make sure that our videos are properly optimized (video SEO) with correct titles, descriptions, and tags. Our interns also focus on getting more video & channel views, more subscribers, and also adding friends on YouTube (all of which factor into YouTube’s algorithm and help push your videos higher in the SERPs). And if you’re not already doing any video marketing, what better project to assign to your social media intern then to create some videos for your company?
5. For Facebook, your intern can review the daily clips with someone on your team, and post those to your Fanpage. They can also login to your Fanpage and “like” other companies that you want to do business with, or are partners with, and engage them on social media with positive commentary. This will allow your Fanpage to appear on those other Fanpages, and is a great way to get more fans yourself.
6. Searching Linkedin groups is another activity that our social media interns engage in. They monitor groups and alert us when a discussion is taking place where our commentary can further position us as experts in our field. Linkedin has also recently introduced “company status updates” to rival what Twitter is doing. Are you using this tool? It’s the perfect activity for your social media intern to engage in.
Those are just a few of the many things that an intern can do to help your social media marketing efforts. I was both surprised & disappointed by the many of the comments after Mr. Stamoulis wrote his post. Many of them felt that interns weren’t reliable or trustworthy, or had no vested interest in the company’s success.
I don’t see how an intern is any different than any other non-equity employee working at a business. Your “in-house SEO” or PR team is just as likely to become disgruntled with your company as your intern, and become irresponsible on social media.
All of the interns that we’ve hired to date have been reliable, trustworthy, and honest. They know if something is debatable in terms of being posted on a social media account, it’s better for them to be cautious and not post. A lot of how your intern acts is a direct correlation to how well they’re managed and what direction they’re given.
In closing, I’d suggest that people look at just a few of the tasks I’ve suggested above that make for great intern projects and ask yourself “am I doing that in my own social media efforts?” If you are, or you have a staff large enough to delegate those tasks to, then that’s fantastic. But as I assumed earlier, most readers of this blog (small business owners) probably aren’t, and therefore could really benefit from having a social media intern.
Hiring a social media intern doesn’t mean giving them complete control of your social media “voice” online. It can, however, help you grow your reach in social media; and by allowing your intern to evolve, you might even find your next social media manager.