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CEO and Founder, The Go! Agency

Why Interns Aren’t Your Social Media Marketing Mentors

With many companies working smarter in this challenging economic climate, business owners and managers alike are looking for inexpensive solutions to solve their operating, marketing and sales problems.

As we all know, there is a fine line between being savvy and being cheap, so in order to perpetuate the successful running of your company it is important to look at all of the factors around the inexpensive solution to make sure that it is a sound one.  Quality.  Experience. Reputation.  These are all factors that would come into the decision making process when looking to replace a member of staff, a supplier or a marketing method (such as advertising).

But why when it comes to social media marketing do companies forget this operating basis and go for a cheap solution that rarely touches all three of these important factors?

What I’m referring to is the almighty social media intern: the be all and end all of many organization’s social media strategy.  Now don’t get me wrong, I think interns are the best thing since sliced bread.  They are eager to help and learn and, if managed properly, can provide a rewarding experience for your company and employees.

The problem is I see many organizations taking on interns to specifically handle their social media marketing.  Not only their social media marketing day-to-day, but companies are asking their interns to build their entire social media department and strategy.

Is it the misconception that youth = social media savvy?  In many cases, I do believe this is the case and here is the problem.  While a younger person may be more well-versed on HOW social media works, do they truly know how to use it to market your company…or any business for that matter?

Also, if this is the first time that they are marketing using social media, is it a good idea to have them create and manage your social media reputation?

The answer?  Absolutely not.  I need to be frank with you here.  This is your business and the person/team that you want handling your social media marketing needs to be vetted through the same processes that you go through when choosing a new member of staff, supplier or marketing/sales channel.  They need to be experienced, have quality references, have quality work samples and understand your business.

Another issue is that using an intern will not illustrate the success that you can experience on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  Using a summer intern to create a Facebook page and put out posts it not social media marketing and probably won’t bring you lots of attention, engagement or even LIKES.  I’ve spoke with many companies that don’t believe social media marketing works, because “we had an intern working on these sites for the past few months and didn’t see any results.”  Well, why should you?  You just let a part-time intern manage your social media marketing campaign entirely (many times without any guidance).

Let’s get one thing straight: I am not down on having interns do social media marketing.  What I am down on is using interns to “test” social media for you.  This is the job of your head of marketing or the social media marketing company that you outsource to.  These people will know the vision of your company, your marketing goals, your ethics, and have a vested interested in your success through creating a synergistic social media marketing STRATEGY.  Having someone off the street come in and create your entire social media strategy, part-time for credit, is not the answer.

When it comes to your social media marketing strategy, I’m sorry to say that the easy and inexpensive answer is not always the correct one.

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