Social Media has dramatically changed the marketing landscape, and the ways we interact both with each other and with the organizations and brands in our lives. For better or worse Facebook and Twitter and Linkedin are here to stay. Everyone has a blog, and along with getting real time news updates, you’re going to be inundated with posts of what people are eating for lunch, and spam comments from marketers who have pegged you as their target demographic.
I’m a big fan of social media. It’s how I connect with a large part of my world. I’ve learned A LOT from both creating content, and from interacting with others on line. Here at Coro Pittsburgh, we use social media everyday, and it has been crucial in staying connected to our alumni, and the Pittsburgh community we are committed to transforming. When social media is done well, and there are plenty or organizations doing it well, it creates a valuable way of interacting with a group you may not have much contact with otherwise.
Especially for non-profits, social media is an obvious answer. What? We can reach hundreds and thousands of people with our mission, and it’s free? Sign us up! And that becomes part of a problem. If it’s free, is it really worth it? Should we bother with social media, or is it a waste of time for our already over-stretched employees? Should we have social media jobs? If someone’s spending all this time on facebook and twitter, how can they be working? This question is more and more often met with the answer, I know, we’ll hire an intern to do it!
In a lot of ways, hiring an intern to manage your social media makes a lot of sense. They get this stuff! They’re tech savvy, they can create facebook profiles in their sleep, they tweet all the time, social media jobs should be a dream for them.
Except that then you start running into the bigger problem of entrusting the management of your brand, your reputation, and your mission, to someone with potentially very little professional experience, who is part-time, new to your organization, and doesn’t have the commitment or buy-in of a full time employee.
Take for instance, the recent debacle Marc Jacobs ran into with having an intern manage their twitter account. The intern, apparently not the right fit for the company, got fed up with the job, took their anger to public on Marc Jacobs twitter account, and fired off a few inflammatory tweets as part of their very public resignation. You can read about it here.
Granted, most of us don’t, and never will have the brand recognition of Marc Jacobs. But that doesn’t mean that we should take social media jobs any less seriously. Your social media should not be managed solely by an intern. If there are no full time employees willing or able to be involved with your social media marketing strategy, then perhaps it’s not a strategic media outlet for your organization right now.
This isn’t to say that interns can’t be involved. Interns are smart, and creative, and are coming into your organization with a fresh perspective. Of course they should be involved. Our interns produce content for all of our social media accounts. Especially if they are interested in social media jobs and marketing, this is a fantastic learning opportunity for them to gain hands on experience that they can reference later in their careers. But our interns are monitored. Their content is edited before it is posted, and at the end of the day, full time staff is responsible for what’s representing Coro Pittsburgh online.
The fact is, that social media management is a real job. Yes it’s kind of goofy that a working professional is paid to “tweet”, but your brand and reputation are too valuable to not do it yourself. Social media is part of marketing now, and should be recognized as a valuable tool, and not a waste of time to be pawned off on an intern.