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Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Hand Social Media Over To Your Intern

Social media is an essential part of marketing your brand and controlling how people perceive it. Most business owners know this, yet they still think it’s a good idea to hand over social management of all channels to their interns. Why?

Don’t get us wrong – an intern is a highly valuable asset to any marketing team, and we can see why the younger and more digitally aware members of the team – usually fresh from graduating – would seem to be the ideal choice to put in charge of social media. After all, they all live and breathe selfies, punchy 200-character tweets, hashtags, viral videos and status updates, don’t they? However, even with the most social-savvy millennial or Gen-Z’er onboard, leaving all your social management to an intern could cause huge damage to your social reputation, which will have a knock-on effect on your revenue. So anyone who wants to stay off any lists of major social fails and use their online media channels to grow their business – listen up!

Four unignorable reasons you shouldn’t delegate social media management to your interns

1. Minimal industry experience

There is much more to social media than posting images, captions and witty one-liners. Social management experts thoroughly plan their online output and consider strategy and KPIs when scheduling each post. Every social media channel has different audiences, uses and set-ups, so what might work on a company Twitter page won’t work on LinkedIn. What’s more, using social media in your personal life is a very different matter to using it for business.

Another problem stemming from lack of experience is that social media interns might not be well-versed in copyright. This leads to all sorts of embarrassing situations (and potentially more serious legal implications) – for example, posting unattributed quotes, using copyrighted images or sharing posts created by your competitors.

2. Won’t know your brand inside out

Your intern could well be a social media whizz, but if they don’t know your audience then they won’t understand how to make them tick. Social media is a vital tool in increasing brand awareness and your marketing department has (hopefully!) spent a lot of time and energy in researching your ideal audience and buyer personas.

Social media is your public face and since it can be accessed in every home all over the world, you don’t want it to misrepresent the brand. A lot of training and educating should be required before you let anyone loose on it.

At the very least you need to have someone checking posts for typos or poor grammar. Your intern could have excellent English, but there are quirks unique to a brand in its spelling or house style that someone new to the brand can’t be expected to know. For example, easyJet could be misspelt “Easy Jet”, “Easyjet” or “EasyJet” – understandable mistakes, but ones that would be extremely embarrassing coming from the company itself.

There is also a danger that interns will use their own tone of voice and use language and opinions that don’t match the company’s house style, mission and values. Relying too heavily on social media interns also risks spreading an inconsistent message, particularly if they leave after a few months and their work is taken over by another member of staff.  

3. Lack of strategy

As mentioned in the first point, social management requires a professional long-and-short-term strategy, and it’s unfair to expect an intern to have that level of expertise. A social marketer needs to understand social media metrics and analytics, and be able to use this data to decide on which platforms to use for what, which posts work well and the best time to post or publish.

So, while an intern can be extremely helpful in posting and monitoring social media, you really need to leave the strategy to someone with more experience. This also allows interns to learn from knowledgeable mentors and grow to become social marketing pros themselves.

4. Inexperienced in customer engagement

Social media marketing involves more than regularly posting. It requires active engagement because the more you communicate with potential customers, the higher the chance of conversion. Customers appreciate personal responses to their comments because it’s human nature to want to be heard, acknowledged and valued as a customer. But responding to negative comments can be particularly tricky and not something you should leave in the hands of an entry-level employee.

While knowing your audience is essential, sometimes social media exchanges follow the lead of their customers. This can be seen in the humorous exchanges of some brands using puns and involving other brands on Twitter, like this exchange between Yorkshire Tea, Cadbury, Jaffa Cakes and Tesco Mobile. However, someone inexperienced could easily turn such an exchange into a disaster by mistaking the tone or going too far.

Final Words

A marketing intern is a great asset to any team, but expecting them to take complete control of your social media – and expecting them to get you results from it – is unfair. It can also be a costly mistake for your brand’s social reputation, both in terms of credibility and revenue. Outsourcing to a marketing agency is a good compromise between the expense of hiring a dedicated social media manager and the risk of relying on an intern.

Relevance has a team of social media experts with experience of working across a range of luxury brands. Contact us if you’d like to know more about how our social media expertise can help your business.