The Social Intern

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I’ve been interning at Bright Innovation for the past 8 weeks. Having turned up on my first day half expecting to unpack boxes from the office move, I’ve found myself playing a much more important role with an ever-changing and expanding task list, including helping with the social media accounts of three Bright Innovation clients.

If you haven’t heard, there’s a school of thought that interns can’t (or shouldn’t) be trusted with social media. Many arguments exist as over-generalised attacks towards graduates that are young and therefore also immature, irresponsible and self-centred (I’m looking at you Inc.com).

However, a number of arguments are, of course, grounded in wisdom. As 83% of marketers believe that social media is important to their business, and nearly 60% of them spend six hours or more using social media each week, it is understandable to have reservations about allowing a fresh-faced intern to act as the face of the company.

Argument 1: Interns lack professional marketing experience

Although interns may be able to honestly say “I’m always using [insert favourite social media platform]!”, using social media in a business context requires more than aimlessly scrolling and ‘liking’ to cure boredom on packed morning tubes and posting your most attractive holiday photos. It requires a more thought–through approach. Social media strategy needs to occur in line with overall marketing strategy and retain a consistent tone – in line with your company’s message.

I wasn’t completely uncomfortable in the world of professional social media before joining Bright Innovation. However, the brief for managing the social accounts of my previous employer consisted of following the latest in celebrity, fashion and beauty trends – any deeper insight was anything that I picked up on myself.

Creating social content within Bright Innovation has been more of a mentoring experience. Where I’ve been allowed to discover what does and doesn’t work for myself, I’ve also been guided and taught some of the most important practices about posting on social media – such as the importance of directing readers back to your website, building audience, creating a balance between own and third-party content on a range of platforms and, importantly, peak times for maximum views.

Argument 2: Interns don’t understand your business (or businesses)

When trying to create and maintain a social voice, it is important that any person behind the account understands not only the audience, but the impression and tone that the business wishes to make. The introduction of a new face to the mix, intern or otherwise, may present challenges.

Whilst the majority of interns are new to the working world and still uncomfortable wearing grown-up clothes, we haven’t (at least in my case) managed to escape the interview process. The knowledge an intern holds about your company may not be particularly in depth, but is easily broadened, if they are keen to learn. And what is an internship, if not learning role.

Working for a consultancy such as Bright Innovation, this learning process is made more difficult: I have to understand multiple client companies. To begin, I was given client websites, a number of focus words, and challenged to find engaging content.

Although a steep and not necessarily fast-paced learning curve, I feel I’m really starting to understand the fundamental differences between the clients that I work with – to the extent that I’ll be scrolling through my phone at home and have to email myself an article that could work for so-and-so. This may not have been as easily learnt or keenly remembered without being given the opportunity to work on social media accounts; perhaps because like 50% of young people nowadays, I learn by doing.

Argument 3: Interns aren’t fully invested in your business

The supporters of this argument warn about the risks of interns – young people working jobs they’re not sure they want, to make their expensive degrees feel worthwhile. An intern may not join with a ready-developed passion for marketing, and they may be transient, but that’s not to say they don’t care about your company. At Bright Innovation, I’ve been made to feel like a valuable part of the team, whether helping with social or otherwise.

Learn more about why social media – specifically LinkedIn – which should be a key part of every B2B marketing strategy.

Sian HeaphyThe Social Intern

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