Social Media – Should your Intern do It?

This is a question that comes up over and over again.  I’ve even been asked to train interns at a University because their employers wanted them to “do social media marketing”.  Why was I training these youngsters who are supposed to know everything about social media and the internet?  Because they know how to use it socially, but not professionally. It would be like asking the kid who watches the most TV at your office to “do tv advertising”. The fabulous Benjamin BakerThe reality is that while younger people understand how social media works, they lack an understanding of how to use it strategically as a part of an integrated marketing strategy.  They know how to add friends and post photos, and sure they have probably even fanned a few brands.  But that doesn’t mean that they know how to represent your brand and drive business value online. Marketers need to stop being intimidated by the technology. Learning the technology isn’t hard.  It isn’t hard to create a facebook account, or even a page.  It isn’t hard to start a blog.  It isn’t hard to set up a twitter account.  The technology is the easiest part.  These sites are designed so that an average (or probably well below average) intelligence individual can use them. The hard part is the strategy.  Who is the target market?  What are they interested in?  What can I talk to them about?  What will engage them and help me break through the noise and clutter?  How can I bring my brand equity and positioning to life?  What sites is my target on?  What opportunities are there for brands and marketers on these sites? Who in my organization should handle social media? These are just some of the strategic questions that need to be answered. Can an intern answer these?  Maybe.  Do they have training and coaching from an internal person who understands these things?  Is this similar to the way you handle other media?  Do you have an intern “figure out tv” or “tell us what to do with print”? Social media is tricky.  It is new.  The rules change.  The downside can be big. That doesn’t mean that you can’t tackle it correctly and strategically. Don’t treat social media like the ugly duckling and pawn it off on the most junior person in your organization.  One of the biggest reasons that companies fail to see results from their social media efforts is that they don’t give it adequate attention.  ROI and results are there – and companies who do it right are benefiting from this. I gave this answer at a presentation before, and someone in the audience asked if I was just trying to build my business by making it sound hard. The reality is that I’m not asking you to think of social media or your digital strategy any differently than how you think of your other media.  Treat it the same way.  Be strategic.  Have a plan.  Execute consistently and with excellence.  Then you’ll see ROI.

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