A common statement I hear from some organizations getting started with social media goes something like this: “We have an intern from the local college here for a few months so we’re going to let him/her handle our social media stuff.” I always cringe a bit when I hear this. Here are five reasons why:
1. Interns won’t think strategically. They may know the technology (and they probably know it well), but most likely, they haven’t ever thought about using something like Facebook strategically. It’s a totally different mindset and approach. Social media isn’t just about pushing the right buttons on a keyboard. Social media done well in business needs the right mindset, a good plan, and the right personnel available to make it all happen.
2. Interns don’t know your organization like you do. They don’t know the culture, the history, the politics, or the answers to most of the questions. Social media works best with authentic and authoritative employees of an organization owning the social media responsibilities. An intern just isn’t going to do all of that for you.
3. Interns don’t care like an employee. Employees know their jobs and reputation are on the line no matter what they do. That inherently inclines them to care more than the average intern will. Interns won’t feel that same weight or responsibility, and the potential for them to be flippant with their use of social media is higher. Sure, some interns are hoping to work for your organization and want to make a good impression, but they still don’t care about your company like you do. They’re just a candidate in a long interview process.
4. Interns are there to learn, not lead. Give the kid a break and don’t put them in a spot where they’re not going to win. When you put your social media efforts on their shoulders, you’re asking them to do something they didn’t sign up for. They may like the responsibility but will quickly get overwhelmed with the fact that they don’t really know what to do. Give them a chance to learn and grow instead.
5. Interns get you off the hook. The biggest issue of all is that assigning an intern to your social media work allows you to check this social media thing off your list, but it doesn’t demand that you understand it or do it well. It gives you a sense of accomplishment without actually accomplishing anything in the long run at all. You need to wrestle with the reality that business and marketing are changing, and social media is part of that. You can’t do that with interns doing the work. You wouldn’t assign an intern to lead on the budget projections for next year nor would you let your intern handle any number of other strategic things. Likewise, you don’t need to let an intern lead your social media efforts.