Social media management is a fairly niche area. When our clients are considering hiring us for this service, we are often weighed against two other options: using an intern or an internal, inexperienced team member; or using someone who does social media management as a service on the side while working a day job in some unrelated industry.
I obviously have a vested interest in why I think you should hire a marketing team instead of either option mentioned above, and I could go into why teams are better than individuals. But I want to just focus on the risks associated with what many organizations do: Hire an intern or pass social media management to a very inexperienced team member.
Before I explore all of the dangers and issues with this practice, I want to clarify that I was the beneficiary of two amazing internships while in college that helped me grow and develop as a professional. While I am definitely a fan of internships in general, I’m not in favor of handing your entire social media presence over to an intern.
Here are the two major misconceptions many managers/directors/CEOs have when it comes to this issue:
1: Because they are young, interns in college or high school understand social media marketing.
Though they might be users of social media and might even have significant followers on a relevant application, that does not mean that they have knowledge or experience in marketing a business or organization using those tools. Generally, building a presence and marketing an organization on a specific platform is much more complicated and difficult than simply using that social media platform. To use a simple metaphor, just because I understand how to use a hammer doesn’t mean you would want me to build your house (trust me, you wouldn’t).
2: Because you don’t have much of a social media following, the intern can’t do much damage.
It’s a common misconception that whatever the intern may write/post will directly reach only a small group of your potential customers. What most executives overlook is that as soon as an account is created, it is visible and easily accessible to anyone who may search for your organization’s name or for key individuals associated with your organization on any search engine. This means that any potential partner, customer or donor can easily find your social media presence and will likely use whatever they find to judge your organization.
Though every business can benefit from having an established and well-managed social media presence, fostering such a presence using an inexperienced team member can often create more risks for an organization than the savings are worth.
Remember that every time you post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn, you are communicating with your current and potential customers. We generally call this “brand messaging.” It’s what your content (images, articles, videos) and captions (the sentence or two that goes with each piece of content) say about your company. This messaging is a part of every single post you put out as an organization, intentional or not.
But that messaging probably shouldn’t be left to an intern.
Timothy A. Zercher is the president and CEO of Pueblo-based EasySocial. Zercher can be reached at easysocial.solutions.