Social Media is like hiring your next employee

I’ve been in and out of more pitch meetings in the last week then I’ve for the latter half of last month. Been talking with CEOs, business development people and even a team looking to start their own communication agency. They all know and believe they need to get into social media but lack the understanding of how they use social media and better yet what it means for them.

At the end of the day, social media is like hiring your next employee. Social media can tell you more about your brand in real time and give you a deep understanding of the landscape that your gut may or may not be right about. Jeremiah Owyang has a great post up on Evolution: The Eight Stages Of Listening, which is a great post looking at what the first steps after doing a social media audit can do for your brand. This is of course, depending on how deep you want to get into social media. However, social media can also tell you the following:

  • What your community really thinks of your advertising campaign
  • How your newly launched product is fairing in the market place
  • Where your community actually hangs out online, which might not be Facebook or Twitter for, the majority of their time online
  • Opportunities to create niche products that might not have been financial possible years ago
  • What the problems are with your customer service and to a greater extend your corporate culture

Those are just the tip of a rather larger iceberg. Social media is like hiring your next employee because it can bring your company together, help you share information across the organization and bring in new business. However, you’re going to have to invest your time in social media and build out a strategic plan to get to that point. You’ll need to make sure that social media is understood across the company and what you are hoping to achieve with it. These are all things you do with a new employee at the end of the day and you’re always happy when that new employee preforms like the super star you thought they were. Now are you willing to treat social media like your next employee and make that investment?

Should you have interns managing your social media?

I’m a big fan of interns having both been an intern when I first got out of college and having recently had the pleasure of managing one while working for a local ad agency. However, I don’t believe that interns should be managing a company’s social media.

Interns don’t have the business experience nor do they have communication experience to be running the social media of a company large or small. More importantly an intern isn’t going to have a strong understanding of the company’s branding, business objectives and goals that they are looking achieve over the long term that need to be taken into consideration when working on strategy planning for social media. There are a few other reason that interns don’t make the best choice for getting into social media:


What happens when you don’t hire the intern on after their 4 months? Do you guys just stop doing social media or try and get another intern after that trial run. Or worse yet, what if the intern isn’t in the office everyday. Who is going to be managing your social media on those off days. Not all internships are full-time Monday to Friday and not getting back to a customer for a few days could be a missed opportunity or come across as you don’t listen.


If you do hire an intern for 4 months and then don’t hire them on afterwards. You are going to create a social media brand with a split personality. As much as we all try, anyone who does social media is going to inject personality into the brands of the company’s they are managing social media for. It would be not only what they say but also how they say and write back when replying to good and bad comments and opportunities related to your brand. If you keep on changing in and out interns every 4 months. The personality behind your brand is going to change with it and make it that much harder for some people to connect with your brand.

Knowledge Base

When that intern leaves or doesn’t get hired on because you wanted to take the cheap way out of getting into social media. Something else goes with them as well…. the intern is taking with them all the knowledge and past experience with all the connections they made. Even if you try and get them to train the new intern before they leave, they are going to miss something. It happens in any situation when you try and train your replacement. Also the relationships that the intern build may be in jeopardy as well once they leave.

This doesn’t even go into the transparency issue of switching in interns every 3 or 4 months. Are you going to let your community know that you didn’t think it was important enough to hire someone full-time to help manage your social media. What does it say about your company if you don’t tell them? What does if say if you do? As we know getting into social media isn’t free (post 1 & post 2) and you’ve to pay for the technology and the people along with their time required to get started. Using an intern to get into social media isn’t going to return the kind of results that you want or have seen from other company’s who have been in the space for the last few years.

I think interns are great and can be a very valuable asset for any company looking to tap the knowledge of the next generation growing up. However, I wouldn’t recommend that you hire one to manage your social media.