One of the greatest debates since the rise of social media for business has been “should we use social media interns to handle our accounts?”
It’s a tough question, especially for emerging businesses that don’t necessarily have the funds to hire a communications expert or the time to dedicate themselves to the task.
The pros of using social media interns:
- They’re inexpensive or free. For emerging fashion designers on a budget, this is a biggie.
- They have a strong understanding of the latest technologies, they’ve spent most of their lives on a device of some kind, they just “get it”.
The cons of using social media interns:
- They’re inexpensive or free. You get what you pay for.
- They most likely (though not always) have very little business experience. Would you let them pitch your brand to retailer?
- THIS IS A BIG ONE: You are a startup business. If you are not on social yourself, listening, learning from, and interacting with customers at this very early stage of your brand, how are you really building a product and business that your market wants and needs? A customer’s feedback is the most valuable thing you have as a startup.
If you decide to go ahead and bring on a social media intern, maybe you should think about the potential that this young eager person has within your company in the future. The future marketing manager? Director of communications? Head of customer service?
With that in mind, here are…
Tips for hiring social media interns:
- Talk to them about their past professional social media experiences. Ask specific questions about the roles they held, challenges they faced, the ROI expectations of past employers, etc.
- Ask about their personal social media habits. What platforms do they actively use, which are their favorites, and why.
- Pay attention to the candidates sense of individuality and experimentation. When it comes to social, uniqueness is so very important. You want to hire someone who seems to embrace this quality in all aspects of their life.
- Give them a quick business profile and ask them how they would begin the social media for this business.
- Ask them for three companies that are rocking social and why.
- Then ask the same about companies that are struggling.
- Ask for writing samples.
Tips for working with social media interns:
- Be sure that you have taken the time to teach your social media interns about the mission and culture of your business.
- Remember to always teach. Interns, like any other team member, are there to learn and be challenged.
- Give them access to the proper tools for social media success, i.e. “must read blogs”, Google Analytics reports, social media management tools.
- Make sure that you are heading up the actual strategy and the intern is helping you deliver that strategy.
- And make sure that strategy includes specific goals and KPIs.
- Be very specific as to what the “social media intern” role encompasses and what your expectations are.
- Have clear directions about what can and cannot be said on your platforms (exact words that your brand would or would not say).
- Create a social media manual that includes scenarios and how to handle them, as well as damage control steps to take.
- Remember that there will be a learning curve. Every brand is different and it will take time for a new intern to really understand your brand and be able to effectively communicate it.
- Foster constant communication between you and your intern.
The biggest take away: Consider your social media interns as having supporting roles so that you’re still involved in the customer interaction during your startup phase but your intern is supporting you along the way and preparing to take on a larger role within your company in the future.