Having a presence on social media benefits any organization’s marketing efforts. However, due to the time commitment necessary, many entities find it challenging to fully execute a social media marketing plan. By using interns for social media management, organizations can take part in the social media sphere while providing quality experiences for interns.

Organizations may choose one of several models for social media management internships. One is complete autonomy. Another is regulating much of the content for an intern. What is undeniably true for both models is that an organization should have a clear brand image and goals to convey. This maintains the reputation of the brand/organization while providing a learning environment for interns. Without guiding principles and goals, social media efforts are only adding noise to already saturated timelines we all follow.

Interns provide the immediacy that social media demands. While post planners like Buffer and Hootsuite diminish some of the tedious work that goes into social media management, they may not account for much without the added human touch of someone directly interacting with followers. Interns offer an organization the opportunity to be more “human” online and to represent company culture. Even so called “boring” companies can benefit from a social media intern by having someone to actively participate in twitter chats, responding to queries on social media platforms, or sharing photos from around the office.

Interns are educators. Whether are not you are new to engaging with your customer base online, the scope of social media is always changing. A great intern will be well versed in not just platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, but researching new tools as they become available.  Providing “how-to” information to their team about new tools help to stay relevant on social media. Moreover, interns add that something “more” to online marketing. Skills such as photography, design, audio editing, etc.  give social media campaigns an edge over constant recycling of content.

Developing best practices for online etiquette is of the utmost importance. After communicating your companies guidelines for online conduct, interns use them to demonstrate company “culture” in action. It goes with out saying that crisis management is a huge part of this. There is seemingly no limit to examples of social media gone wrong in the hands of interns; however, this is easily avoided through clear communication of guidelines and values.

A social media intern can be an incredibly positive reflection of the company they are representing, building following by simply being the person behind the screen.

Q1) What are the challenges and benefits of using interns in an organization’s social media efforts?

Q2) What attributes, skills or experience outside of social media are important to an intern’s success?

Q3) What academic achievements might you look for in a social media intern?

Q4) How might organizations best prepare interns to represent them on social channels?

Q5) What things help assure that the internship enriches the experience of your social media intern?

Q6) How do we learn from social media interns?

Sarah Thomas contributed today’s framing post and is our guest for #SMXChat. Sarah is a journalism student with a minor in Japanese. Her study of Japanese and her time abroad (in Japan) fueled an interest in understanding how people ‘connect’, hence her fascination with social media. Sarah is certified in digital design, is a part-time Barista, has interned in social media and community organizations in her city of Milwaukee WI and dabbles in photography. Find Sara on Twitter: Sarah Thomas on Twitter