Social Media Interns – Good Idea? Bad Idea?
Summer is just a few months away, bringing with it a slew of socially savvy interns to help your business. Should you hire a summer intern to handle your social media?
On one hand, college students are a natural choice for social media projects. After all, they grew up with it. Plus, interns are cheap. If you’ve been struggling to keep up with your blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts, you may see hiring an intern as a form of social salvation. Likewise, if you’re doing it all on your own and feel overwhelmed, you may begin fantasizing about all that free time you’ll recover by handing social media off to an intern.
Not so fast! There’s also a downside to handing social media to an intern. Remember, your social media efforts are among the more customer-facing tasks you can possible perform. Are you really comfortable putting a college kid in charge of such a high profile job?
Another consideration involves whether or not the intern is legitimately qualified to perform social media tasks. While he may be a whiz on Facebook or have a ton of Twitter followers, has he taken any communications, journalism, or social media classes?
What about fit? Will a social media intern respond to customers with LOLs and LMAOs or will she conform to the professional tone that you’ve already established?
Assuming you can find a qualified, socially savvy summer intern who will be amazing at managing your social media accounts, there’s more to consider including your role in the process. What do you have to offer the summer intern? Interns are willing to work for free or for peanuts with the understanding that they will gain valuable experience and real-world insights by working for you. Interning is meant to be an educational, career-enhancing experience.
If you’re looking only for cheap labor and don’t have anything to offer other than the opportunity to work for free, hiring an intern is a bad choice. In fact, it could be in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act which specifies the following criteria for determining whether or not a person can participate in a “for-profit” private sector internship without compensation:
1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
A small business struggling to manage social media isn’t likely a good fit for an internship whereas a digital marketing agency interested in helping future digital marketers experience the real world of social media might be.
So, now that you’ve determined that hiring a summer intern to handle your social media accounts isn’t the best choice, what are you going to do about your overwhelming workload? While an internship may not be an option, you do have other options. For example, you could hire an employee, invest in social media management tools that make your job much easier, or outsource social media to an agency.
Summer’s coming and your social media accounts are stalling. What will you do?