A Common Social Media Mistake: Putting Interns in Charge

Millennials on Phone

We’ve said it before, and again and again, but I’ll say it one more time to get the point across:

Social media isn’t going anywhere.

It may have started out as a way to share cat videos and keep up to date on your kids’ whereabouts (and for many, it still has this purpose), but it has since evolved into a place where companies and brands can reach new customers where they spend their free time. If you’ve heard this plea and decided to create a social media presence for your brand, good for you! I’m proud. But if you’ve assigned this task to your interns (or someone in a department completely unrelated to marketing and/or social media), you’ve made a serious social media mistake. Take a step back and examine these numbers:

Your social media presence affects your customers; it’s up to you whether that’s in a positive or negative way. Don’t put this task on the shoulders of your interns. Why? Let’s explore.

Your Brand is Forever. Your Interns Aren’t.

Your brand is your company. Your social media presence is the personification of your brand online. It should reflect your company’s values, personality, goals, hopes, dreams and fears while translating this message to your customers and fans.

Your interns are designed to be short-term — that’s why they’re interns. An internship should be a learning experience; do you really want your social media manager to be “just figuring it out along the way?”

  1. Every 4-5 months, when your interns leave, you will be responsible for training the next batch on your social media etiquette.
  2. Interns do not (and should not be expected to) live and breathe your brand.
  3. You will be changing passwords more than getting actual work done, or worse, leaving that task up to the intern, who will inevitably misplace or misfile them.

The Power of Flexibility Comes with Experience

It is 100% essential to have a content calendar that guides your social media posts throughout all channels. Without this, no one will know what’s going on and you’ll probably end up posting some pretty weird stuff. But the content calendar should not be the end-all, be-all.

Interns are generally not comfortable thinking too outside the box. They are in an unfamiliar environment for a short amount of time, most likely still in school where requirements are rigid, and again, they are not as familiar with your brand as your social media manager should be. Interns will stick to the script; they don’t have the power to make flexible decisions when it comes to your social media strategy. Social media requires creativity, strategy, and sometimes, a good amount of risk. Your interns simply aren’t there yet.

To Be or Not To Be…On 5,000 Social Media Sites

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, your interns do not understand your brand well enough to decide which social media platforms to take part in. An excited intern tasked with starting up a company’s social media presence may be tempted to create an account on every single social media site known to man. Intern Sally may get a kick out Snapchat, but your investment banking company literally has no business there.

There’s a Lot of Messy Upkeep

Snapchat for Business

Photo by: https://www.flickr.com/photos/67683836@N02/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

If you do make the wise choice to stop assigning social media duties to your intern and hire an agency or manager instead, there is a very high possibility that you will experience the following:

  1. The entire state of Florida will have the highest level of administrative access to your Facebook page.
  2. Your company will have approximately 13 random Google+ pages for your 1 location.
  3. Some of those Google+ pages may actually be personal Google+ profiles and not business pages. That’s not what we meant when we told you to give your company a personality.
  4. Your company will also have four Twitter accounts, nine Facebook personal pages, Facebook business profiles, and Facebook location pages**, and a myriad of other accounts set up on various review sites and blogging platforms that no one has used in the past 10 years.
  5. No one will know the passwords to the above.

I could go on.

**Yes, all 3 are things.

Dealing With the Unexpected

Customers Complain on Social Media

“The Brighthouse guy missed my appointment again.”

Unexpected Scenario #1: Your intern does not have the experience to deal with the hoards of angry humans that turn to social media to complain, ask weird questions, or just cause drama. This is also a lot of pressure for your intern who may ignore these angry/annoyed customers, or respond incorrectly and cause larger problems.

Unexpected Scenario #2: It’s extremely easy to slip up and offend someone or make your company look silly, uneducated, or naive. I’m not saying that your intern will tweet a myriad of profanities from your company account; sometimes all it takes is an unfortunate spelling error, attaching the wrong photo to a tweet, or simply using the wrong choice of words.

Unexpected Scenario #3: It’s simpler than you think to post something to a company account that you meant to post to your personal account. And while that photo of Jessica doing a keg stand at the Saturday rager is sure to go viral amongst your intern’s friend group, it may have a slightly different effect on your customers.

Just Don’t Do It. Please.

In conclusion, don’t task your temporary interns with managing your company social media accounts. Having a presence on social media is more than just posting every day. It requires a strategy and a bigger purpose. Allowing your interns to experiment with social in a supervised environment is A-OK, how else will they get the experience? But task someone else with management. Social media takes experience and daring; give your interns time to find this in a less public arena and you, too, can avoid these social media mistakes.