Would You Trust Your Traditional Marketing To An Intern?

@Kevin | Strategy

I monitor a lot of job sites to see who is hiring when it comes to social media. Personally I find it interesting to see which companies are looking, how they are structured, and on occasion I am able to pick up a client or two. One trend I have been seeing an increase in is the number of companies looking for interns to completely run their social media.

In this economy I understand the need to save money and I see how an intern can help a company do that. Some companies are bringing in interns to help run their campaigns under a marketing manager or a social media director, which is a completely logical move. However companies that are completely turning over their social media strategy to an intern aren’t making sound decisions. It is the equivalent of a company turning over their traditional marketing campaign to an intern, which just doesn’t happen.

What really scares me is some of the thought behind why these companies are doing this. On the one hand it is scary that they are trusting something that can be so powerful to people with zero real strategic experience and on the other hand it shows that people working in social media haven’t done a good job at educating potential users.  I’ve exchanged some e-mails with companies asking them why they are looking for interns to completely run their social media and here are some of their reasons with my rebuttals:

1)      College students are using social media so they must know all about it. There is a huge difference between knowing about a tool and using it strategically. Furthermore using that tool  as part of a larger strategy that blends in with your overall marketing mix requires experience and a much different type of skill set that an intern can’t bring.

2)      It is a passing fad; why invest anything more than an intern? While these companies didn’t use those exact words you could tell the sentiment was there. I’m not going to say that social media is the end all and be all but the advancements that have been made have been game changers when it comes to communications and companies need to get involved.

3)      They are unsure about what to invest, the return on investment, and what to pay so their solution is to test the waters with an intern. The first two reasons I obviously have issues with but these are legitimate reasons. When having a one on one conversation it is easy to explain to them what to expect, what to track, and how to establish goals which will lead to figuring out what their ROI can and should be. However on a larger scale it is obvious that there is too much talk around the tools but not enough talk about understanding, planning, and tracking… this is a failure by “social media experts”. Being able to understand these concepts sets apart self proclaimed experts and people that create strategy, adapt it, and grow your social media presence.

Without effective planning, tracking, and rational goal setting I guess you might as well turn your social media marketing over to an intern because if you are paying anyone do implement a social media strategy and they aren’t explaining and doing any of those three things they have the skill set of an intern.