In Defense of Social Media Interns

By | March 29, 2011

mentor

What is up with the fashion industry? First, Kenneth Cole has a twitter snafu and now you? I read Kristy Bolsinger’s article “So, you hired an intern to manage your Twitter Marc Jacobs?” and I’d like to step in and defend the intern. And by “the intern” I mean the collective set of interns out there, not Marc Jacobs’ intern.

Marc Jacobs Twitter

Surprisingly, the tweets from their intern haven’t been deleted. Alarmingly, twitter is in the top 5 destination sites from marcjacobs.com. What does this mean? It means when people are on marcjacobs.com and they leave, they’re likely to go to Twitter.com from your site, probably to follow your brand (marcjacobs.com has the “follow us” buttons on their website) or tweet about that hot new handbag they just saw.

Site Destinations from MarcJacobs

First, I’ll say that I am biased. I work with the Northeastern Co-op program and have worked with three different interns, who have all been fantastic.

Second, I’ll say that I used to be of the same mindset as Kristy.

Many social media “rockstars” and “ninjas” and “gurus” are protective of their craft. Understandably so. Social Media is still not an essential position at many organizations, so there’s a growing number of specialists in a niche field. And we’d all like to guard our jobs by thinking that we are the ultimate authority on our craft. I have been in the room with many social media personalities and wondered where the megalomania fits into their social media strategy. Interns are just mini social media professionals in the making. They don’t know what they don’t know, so if you take the time to mentor, monitor, and teach them, they may be better than you at executing your social media strategy. So you want to hire an intern.

How to hire a great social media intern? Here are some tips we’ve picked up at Compete

First: Don’t think of them as an intern. They’re going to be rolling up their sleeves and doing some grunt work. They’re there to help you. You’re going to be delegating a lot of things you don’t want to or can’t do due to time constraints. Treat them like they’re the newest MVP. They probably will be if you’ve hired the right person.

Then:

-Make sure they’re tech savvy. This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised.

-Make sure they’re passionate about your company and your industry. They don’t have to be an expert, but they have to care about what you do and your company’s success.

-Make sure they’re willing to learn. You’re going to have to coach and develop this person. You’re going to have to give them feedback. If they can’t adapt, you’re likely to be the next Marc Jacobs.

-Make sure they’re resilient. You’re going to deal with negative feedback. You’re going to deal with customer complaints. How is your intern going to respond to that kind of feedback? Ask them the right questions during the interview process with real examples. Bring negative tweets with you to the interview and ask them how they’d respond to that feedback. This will give you a great feel of their personality.

-Make sure you’re ready to have an intern. Like dating, if you’re not ready to commit to this person and ensure that they’re going to be successful, you’re setting everyone up for failure. Set yourself up for success by creating a training and development program. Have weekly meetings with them and communicate, communicate, communicate.

Last, reward them for great work. If you’ve done your job as a mentor, they’ll want to come back and work for your organization and you’ll be counting down the days until they come back.


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