Social marketing expertise-why can’t an intern tweet for us?

twitterbirdI am astounded at number of companies I see that are looking for an intern (often unpaid) to fill their social marketing needs for themselves or for their clients. Please don’t get me wrong-I have nothing against interns. In fact, I have had some talented ones and adore them. But companies are completely missing the point: the best social marketing is orchestrated via a plan, and should be a coordinated marketing effort by someone experienced in social marketing. If done right, it will compliment the marketing taking place elsewhere and marketing is always more effective when all components compliment each other.

In less than a year, I have gained almost 10 k followers on Twitter. Now, there are other people who have gained more of a following than in close to that same time period. I am certainly not THE authority on Twitter following.  But there are others, on Twitter about the same length of time, who have a thousand followers or less. Some may intentionally be keeping it small and some may not have a goal of a large following, but it is a difference that should be noted.

I’ve seen the same thing happen on Facebook. With the right components and interaction, a group or page in a year’s time can grow with very solid numbers. If those components aren’t used, groups and pages will sit with a few members and not accomplish the marketing goals that the company wants to see.

Gaining a large following, if that is your goal, takes time, dedication and some expertise. And when you are paying someone with experience, you are not just paying them to tweet on your behalf-you are paying them to:

  1. Build a market for you online.
  2. Provide their expertise on the best way to do that and the best places for your company to have a presence.
  3. Provide branding of your company or clients.
  4. Consult with you on the best way to accomplish the goals and the best way to tie the social marketing in with other parts of the plan. (priceless)
  5. Sometimes provide online customer service as appropriate.
  6. Have a hand in the quality of service your company or clients are providing.
  7. Provide a “front-line” and immediate presence/impression of your company or your client.

My friends, it is so much MORE than tweeting. Trust me on that. If you truly want impact and results from your social marketing, invest the dollars. It will pay off.

10 thoughts on “Social marketing expertise-why can’t an intern tweet for us?

  1. Overall, I think this is a good post, but I do think there are times when an intern can be a great tweeter. If your target market is college (or intern age) and you are looking to help make connections an intern can be really helpful in that process. And the intern may, with proper guidance, supervision and direction be able to tweet and post on behalf of the brand.

  2. Yes, an intern could definitely be helpful for that age group, I agree. And yes, an intern could be coached and brought on board with overall plan, etc. An intern can also be a great tweeter.

    But it’s essential that communication happens and that the person implementing the social part of the plan, intern or not, is not only fully on board with all of the marketing plan but also has the experience to know what social marketing avenues will be effective for that plan. Especially when the plan calls for more than Twitter.

    Thanks for reading, Nicole!

  3. I think your point #7 is key — who do you want representing your company? Customers or potential customers may interact or hear from your company more often through Twitter/Facebook than in person. Would an intern really know how you want your company represented and the image you want portrayed? And, if unpaid, would they take it seriously?
    I agree, interns can be great, but this is definitely something you don’t want to just throw over the fence and have someone else deal with. It’s surprisingly harder (to do it right and gain a following) than it seems. I recently started doing this for my parents’ art gallery…and have a rather meager following. Needless to say, I have a lot to learn!

  4. VEry thoughtful blog, Julie. I esp. liked your 4th point: “Consult with you on the best way to accomplish the goals and the best way to tie the social marketing in with other parts of the plan.”

    Integrating all the social media parts and having a team strategy with most of the staff seems important. One person can’t do a very good job in isolation.


  5. Great post, and good points about the value of hiring a professional (and getting what you pay for). A college instructor brought up a similar point during the “Is PR a Dying Breed” panel discussion (about the rise of Twitter as a PR tool) at this year’s SXSWi when she noted that her marketing/business students knew how to use the social networking tools but didn’t necessarily have the experience or good judgment to leverage them effectively for a business.

    Perhaps one of the best ways to utilize interns is as mentors to teach the nuts and bolts of using these tools to staff and leadership. In turn the interns will be learning business skills and discretion from those whom they are teaching.

  6. Thank you Karynn, Roger and Amy for your participation and thoughts. Good idea, Amy, on letting them mentor in their areas of strength. That’s a boost (as well as another learning experience for anyone).

  7. Pingback: Marketing Jewels | NEVER MIND MARKETING :: social media advisors

  8. Very thoughtful post Julie! I’m of the intern age and I only partially agree with your post. No, an intern should not be the sole voice for your brand but the only way that professional you hire to run your social media engagement got any experience was by interning somewhere and actually doing social marketing.

    At some point, the intern has to be allowed to get their hands a little dirty, and gain that much-needed experience. Sure, we’re growing up with these tools but as Amy said, not all of us know how to leverage them for business.

    Also, I think there have to be some other indicators of success in social media than follower/fan count. Because of spammers, dead accounts etc. a follower count alone cannot be an appropriate measurement of your influence in any social space.

  9. Pingback: Social Marketing Expertise-why can’t an intern tweet for us? | Marketing Jewels | Online Marketing Connect

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