Social media has exploded over the last decade to the point that it’s become one of the most important forms of marketing for modern businesses. As it turns out, however, the heads of many companies–from startups to major corporations–aren’t always very tech-savvy, and they may not know how to best incorporate social media into their business models. It may seem like a good idea to get some “young blood” into your office and hire an intern to post your business’ tweets, status updates, and Instagram shots. Unfortunately, trusting an intern to manage your social media presence can be tantamount to setting yourself up for disaster. Here is a look at six reasons why you absolutely shouldn’t offload these tasks onto your intern.
- They Don’t Know the Company – Most high school or college interns are simply looking for an office environment where they can begin to build their resumes. Odds are that they don’t know your company very well–especially when they first get started. They may not understand your product, your values, or your marketing goals. If you let your intern take social media in his own direction, you are ultimately going to be responsible for the impression those posts make on prospective customers.
- You’re Probably Undervaluing Your Audience – No longer just tools used by teenage girls, you have no idea what sorts of influential people might be following you on social networks like Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. Putting your lowest-ranked employee in charge of communicating with your social media audience could make a bad impression on a potential multi-million-dollar customer or a prospective investor. You need to treat your social media followers as though they have the potential to change the future of your business–in all likelihood, some of them probably do.
- Interns Aren’t Always Mature – You’ve probably seen the news stories about interns at major companies who got a little too fed up with their jobs and turned to social media to exact their revenge. Since your interns have no real vested interest in your company, they might take “humor” a step too far or even intentionally post updates or tweets that make your company look bad. Obviously, it’s a generalization to say that college students aren’t as mature as adults (many adults aren’t mature either), but are you willing to risk your reputation on an intern that you don’t know very well?
- Personal Use of Social Media Is Different From Business Use – Just because your intern knows how to use social media in their daily life doesn’t meant that they will be any good at using it as a business tool. The way you manage a personal Facebook profile is very different from the way you deal with your business’ fan page, and the rules of conduct don’t always translate very well. You might ask your intern who is technically literate to teach one of your senior marketing people a thing or two about how to use certain social networks, but the true employees should always be the ones left in charge.
- Little Mistakes Can Quickly Become a Big Deal – Once a post has made its way onto the Internet, there is no way to recall it. Say, for instance, that your intern means to tweet that you are offering 5 percent off of everything in your online store but accidentally writes that you’re offering 50 percent off instead. If your hundreds or thousands of followers see the accidental tweet and your “great sale” starts to go viral, you will either have to make an unpopular retraction or lose out on a lot of money. Even if you are able to delete a post quickly, the ability to take screen captures means that you can never completely erase mistakes from people’s memories.
- Social Media Is Today’s Most Important Networking Tool – When it comes down to it, the decision to delegate social media to your lowest tier of employees is really nothing more than laziness on your part, and it may cause you to miss out on some major opportunities. The networking and relationship building that you can do via social media makes these sites some of the most important tools you can use in today’s technological world. The decision not to take part in social media yourself essentially disconnects you from all the great potential contacts you could have met via your social networks.
Just because you shouldn’t let your interns take full control over your social media accounts doesn’t mean that you can’t still use these young people as valuable sources. Hold brainstorming sessions to bounce ideas for potential Twitter or Facebook updates, and then choose the best ones to send out to the public. You can also rely on your interns to do research into social media analytics and report back to you. In this way, you are taking some of the pressure of social media off of true employees and making good use of your interns without trusting inexperienced young people to control your most direct line of communication with the public.