Should I hire an intern to run my social media?

Should I hire an intern to run my social media?

Marketing people wear many hats today and recently they have a new one – the social media hat. With added responsibilities and the same amount of time in the day (not to talk about compensation) some marketing folks are turning to interns to help out in the social space. They are after all more internet savvy and have hundreds of Facebook friends so they should be able to run the social media for the company. Right? For companies in the travel&tourism space, interns are fairly easy to find as the perks are better – free lift tickets, free access to places, and bragging rights to friends.

Proceed with caution. Some interns will make a great addition to your marketing staff and some may lead to a disaster on social media. Ultimately, it’s your company’s reputation that is at risk.

Below are some guidelines and considerations to follow.

  1. Your social media intern will represent your travel brand online. Their personality will inter-vine with yours. They will become the voice for your tourism brand online. Make sure they understand your business, your market and your industry and can speak on your behalf.
  2. Make sure they understand marketing. Yes, being authentic and real online is fantastic but the reason to be on social media is to extend your reach, creating new relationships while forging existing ones. It’s all Marketing 101. Does your intern get this? I’m not talking about blasting your community with the latest sale and promotion. I’m talking about how you provide value to your customers.
  3. Make sure they have at least the basics of social media. The fact they have a personal Facebook page and watch YouTube videos doesn’t qualify them for being a social media guru (ninja, expert, fill in the blank here). Good communication skills and writing skills are essential for social media.  Do they have a basic understanding of running a Facebook business page? Do they know how to start creating an online community? And if they don’t, do they know where to go to find the answers.
  4. Protect your brand by asking them to sign a social media policy. Mistakes happen but sometimes an intern or an employee can knowingly do something really damaging to your reputation. Make sure they sign your social media policy. If you don’t have one, at least go over some general rules and guidelines as to what’s acceptable on social media for your travel brand.
  5. Create a plan for them to follow. Most interns need a lot of supervision and direction. Just spending time on Twitter and Facebook won’t be too beneficial to your company. What would be your social media strategy? It’s probably best if you spend the time to develop a plan and then go over it with your intern to make sure they understand it and can follow it. Develop a 6 months plan with KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Establish benchmarks. Create an editorial calendar. Come up with some contests. Look at your brand across different social networks and decide how to engage with your followers at each one. Then, once a month sit down with your intern and review where you stand. Learn from the experience online and improve your plan. Hold them accountable if your measurements allow.

Interns can be a great addition to your marketing team – from developing content like videos and blog posts to monitoring your brand reputation online and your social media presence daily. For brands in the travel&tourism space it may be easier to find social media interns that are passionate about the company. It also helps if you can pay them. Who wants to work for free these days? At the same time, who doesn’t want to ski powder all day long and take videos or stay at a nice hotel, go kitesurfing and write a blog post about the experience? Interns can be very enthusiastic about what they do and they can bring lots of energy to your marketing team.

Capitalize on the good and minimize the dangers by having a good plan before you go out seeking interns. For more information on what to look for, I found this post on Mashable.

What is your experience with interns? For the most part, I have to say mine was favorable under the right expectations. And yours? Leave a comment in the space below and let us know. Would you hire an intern? Why or why not? Interns, what do you look for in an internship? What companies would you like to work for?

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About Milena Regos

Marketer, Consultant and Creator of the Simple Marketing Blueprint online marketing course for busy professionals.