With the boom of social media communication in recent years, many companies have concluded that they must get involved. Some hire professionals to help them take their first step into this exciting new world of communication, but many have delegated this important brand tool to interns. Many believe that because interns are frequent users of this technology and understand some of the mechanics, they are the logical choice to help in social media projects. Interns also provide a less expensive alternative to professional help. Most of these Gen-Y, fresh-faced, students joined Facebook even before they started college and made re-tweets of their friends’ party their online priority. But that doesn’t make them the right choice for this important brand initiative.
Social media should complement traditional marketing and public relations efforts and become part of your overall communications strategy. It should tie into the messaging, strategy, metrics, and overall business goals for your company. So how can companies benefit most from using interns for social media initiatives? Share their enthusiasm and knowledge of social media by pairing them with a manager who participates in their activities. The manager will learn more about the media, and your brand will not be jeopardized by someone with little knowledge and experience. The goal here is to model interns’ communication habits to align them with the company’s mission and values.
How things are said on Face Book, Twitter, blogs, and other social media sources will influence brand perceptions. People will feel better about your brand, differently about your brand or worse about your brand as a result of what you say and how you say it. Carefully select the right interns and work closely with them. The success of a social media internship program requires a sound strategy with clearly defined goals, proper management, and close monitoring, as well as trusting relationships between businesses and interns.