7 Reasons Your Intern Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media

by Lauren Szoszorek

Pop quiz!

Who is running your company’s social media accounts?

If you’ve answered, “We’ve got the intern on it,” or a NCG (new college grad), here are seven reasons why you need to reconsider that approach.

We get it … and we see it all the time. Put the millennial who lives, breathes, dreams selfies and social media on it and you’re good to go.

Not so fast.

While we believe that interns can support the overall social media effort once a strategy is put into place, we advise against giving them the reins without proper guidance and a whole lot of oversight.

After all, what entry-level professional knows your market, is prepared to aptly respond to negative posts, and thinks critically and acts strategically about what you’re trying to do with social media? It’s not fair to them and it’s definitely not in the best interest of your business.

Here are seven reasons to revisit your social media management philosophy:

1. It’s not just about the posts.

You’ve got to put in some time thinking about the goals you want to strive for when taking on a social media program. Thinking about goals. Setting KPIs. Determining a strategy.

I told you: There’s more to social media than one thinks. This isn’t about funny cat videos, food porn or snapping awkward photos that vanish in 10 seconds. For business, social media is real work.

In short, your plans for a robust social media program require your efforts to fit in with other efforts – like a public relations strategy, digital marketing strategy and overall business strategy.

And the person driving this needs to have an intimate understanding of what social media can do … and what it can’t.

For example, does the person you’re turning your social media responsibilities over to know the difference between a Google+ page and a Google My Business page? (And yes, we recommend Google+. Does your social media manager know why we’d do such a thing?) Can he or she properly set up a Google+ page without making it a personal page? Is it linking to your company’s YouTube channel? Is your Facebook account necessary? If it is necessary, is it set up as a business page as opposed to a Facebook personal page? What about Facebook location pages? Have you verified your accounts?

Are you tweaking your posts based specific writing techniques for each of these platforms?

And is Twitter really necessary? Really?

What about Pinterest? What about Instagram? What about Snapchat and Glassdoor? What happens when someone posts an unsavory comment on your Facebook page? Or gives you a bad review on Glassdoor? Yes, it’s more complicated that you think. And you need a strategy. Does it really make sense to try to be everywhere? Not likely.

2. Industry knowledge.

I alluded to this above. Not knowing your market, your business goals and not being familiar with the competition can be real vulnerabilities when you have a NCG running your program. Everything seems to be going swimmingly but then, after a few weeks, an employee notices that your company has retweeted each of your competitors … multiple times. Ouch.

Or maybe the intern completely misses the latest breaking news that’s happening in your industry and the opportunity presented with that breaking news.

Or there’s a question asked by a customer that’s gone unanswered … for days.

Company leadership, veteran employees – it’s those folks who know your industry better than anyone. Any new employee might know what you do, but likely isn’t aware of all the ins and outs and intricacies of the industry. They also likely aren’t apprised of your over-arching strategy and business plan I mentioned above, which can hinder efforts.

3. Writing style and understanding the audience.

Remember when it was impressive that people had Microsoft Office on their resumes? There was a time when this skill was hard to find.

Nowadays, social media is the new Microsoft Office. It’s on everyone’s resume. The problem is, there is a big difference between using social media for personal reasons and using it for a business.

A personal account is full of opinions, slang, memes, gifs, etc. While some of these can be fun to use for a business – depending on the business and its culture – they aren’t all professional. Let’s be honest: the last thing you want your customers to see is a tweet from your company with the Grumpy Cat meme saying, “You’re so upset with our product? I’m so upset I have to listen to your complaints.”

And it’s not just about the content – it’s about knowing which channels work best for your company. Snapchat might be fun for personal use, but is it the best platform to start your company’s social presence? Not likely. Knowing your audience – and where your prospects and key target media are on social media – is just as important as what you’re putting out there.

4. Typos. Oh, the typos.

Mistakes happen. We’re all human. But when those mistakes get broadcasted to the World Wide Web with your company’s name on them, you have a problem.

There’s nothing more embarrassing than a company with typos in their social posts. Or improper capitalization. Or poor grammar. If an entry-level worker isn’t being reviewed, those mistakes occur more often.

5. Illegal image use.

These days, the world is available at your fingertips. Unfortunately, this makes it all too easy to infringe on copyright and trademark agreements.

No matter who is managing your social media, using an image that your company doesn’t own is bad news bears. No matter who you have spearheading your social efforts, you need to be cognizant of where they’re pulling those oh-so fabulous infographics and memes. If you’re not licensing those images, you shouldn’t be using them … even if they are accompanying a story on a respected website.

If you’re not using your own images, and you’re not paying for stock images, leave the image out. It’s not worth the risk of getting a court order on your desk for illegally using a Happy Holidays image on your company’s social media account.

6. Determining what’s working.

As discussed before, you company’s social media accounts need love and attention. So, while daily engagement on social media is great, KPIs are key. If you’re not continually analyzing which strategies are successful and which are not, all that hard work could mean nothing. And eventually, it turns into mundane process that is only done because it has to be done.

This needs to stop.

If you spend an hour every week Snapchatting your office, but you only have one follower, you could be putting your eggs in the wrong basket. Take the time to review your current strategies. Are you using the right platforms? Are you engaging with followers at the right times? Are your posts reaching the audience your going after?

A new employee or intern might not have the knowledge or understand the importance of reviewing your social strategies. Take the time to review KPIs often, and avoid going down the rabbit hole.

It’s not just about followers – it’s about attracting the right followers. And engaging with the influencers, media, reporters in your space while simultaneously positioning your company as thought leaders.

7. Not tapping your employees.

Okay so you get it now. Social media is an important piece of the business pie and needs to be treated as such. But it doesn’t stop with the company accounts. No, no, no. Social media goes much further than that.

Your employees are your best assets and advocates. Think about this: Your director of operations is out to dinner with his in-laws and, as per usual, the topic of work comes up. His father-in-law starts asking if your company’s software can extract data from a CRM, a feature of your products newest upgrade. Lo and behold, you just made a sale.

All right, time for some math. If your company LinkedIn page has 1,380 followers, the maximum reach you can send a message is to 1,380 people. While that’s great, it might not be the right people who are looking to buy right-at-this-moment.

Now, say you have 50 employees and on average, they have 250 LinkedIn connections. If each of those 50 employees shares the same news the company just shared, your reach went from a maximum of 1,380 to 13,880.

Encourage employees to share company news can put you in a whole new playing field. There are a number of employee advocacy tools you can use to measure who is sharing what and how often. You can even make it fun by using incentives i.e. free coffee, dinner for two, tickets to a local sports game.

Everything sent out through social media is public and it represents you. And at the end of the day, your company’s social media accounts are your brand and – unlike your summer intern or probably your next new hire – your brand has some serious staying power. Before you know it, you’re transitioning your intern out and your left trying to pick up the pieces to pass off to the next person.

And while an intern is a good asset to ease the load—and can certainly add some value to your overall social media program—relying on them to run your company’s social media is at best unfair and at worst, could cost you your credibility.