February 6, 2013

Many companies hire interns to develop talent and to benefit from low cost staff. Interns can be a great asset to most companies. But they are young and inexperienced. They are not qualified to be Social Media Managers. This isn't to say that interns don't make great Social Media staff - they can provide a great means to producing online success.

Here are 6 key reasons that interns should not be left in charge.

1. They've never managed anything before

Hiring an intern means hiring someone with little to no experience. If they have never managed a team of employees or overseen a department, why should they be successful now? They require training, mentoring, and grooming to be able to take on the responsibility of the company's online reputation.

2. Interns lack brand awareness

Social Media Managers need to have a solid grasp on the image and branding of the company. They should be able to write valuable content about the company from their own experiences and perspectives. Interns do not have enough vested in a company to oversee all of the online content.

3. They need to develop their customer service skills

Social Media involves talking directly with the customers and requires a well-developed customer service approach. Social Media Managers need to be prepared to deal with angry and disgruntled employees in a public forum. While the intern may very well have worked in a customer service position during college, chances are they have not yet developed the skill set to respond in an appropriate manner to a complaint that is open to the public. Extreme tact and caution needs to be exercised in these responses.

4. Interns haven't mastered professional networking

Developing an online community takes networking to a whole new level. Customers and partners are searched out for relevance and potential brand impact. Interns are more likely to go after their friends and other similar interested individuals when developing a following. Unless the company is targeting this specific demographic, a professional with career networking and brand development skills is going to be better suited to oversee the Social Media strategy.

5. Understanding corporate communications

While online platforms do allow for a more casual conversation, the overall Social Media strategy will also include blogging, press releases, news, invitations, and other formal communications. Companies should consider this when hiring an intern fresh out of college. Does this intern have the necessary writing skills to produce these communications in a professional manner and on behalf of the company? It's also important to look at the conversational tone that the intern uses in their own personal Social Media platforms - are they full of acronyms, spelling errors, and slang? If this is how they communicate on a daily basis, how can a company be sure that the intern will produce content that will resonate with their brand's followers?

6. Interns don't understand analytics and ROI

Sure they may be very savvy when it comes to generating content and creating engagement. But to what point? Interns have never had to dissect the analytics of their personal profiles. Who is interacting and in what way? How is this contributing to sales leads and conversions to sales? What is an appropriate marketing budget for the online strategy? Every Social Media strategy needs to have goals and metrics in place. Leaving someone without these skills and abilities in charge of the strategy will ultimately lead to failure.

Social Media Managers take on a very large portion of a company's overall marketing strategy. Social Media is a very real and important part of a brand's online success and reputation. It takes a properly trained individual to achieve these results and companies need to hire accordingly. Interns are just not the right people for this position.

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
    1. As with any other position of management or leadership, the position must be earned through experience. I’m not saying we shouldn’t hire interns, I’m just suggesting we hire them for a more appropriate entry-level position. Then, as they grow into the company and learn the required skills (just like any other manager in any other department), they get promoted according to their skills and success. A social media manager should be chosen based on their social media skills and their overall project managment skills as well.

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