January 19, 2023 by Monique

7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Hire an Intern for Social Media Management

(And One Reason You Should!)

We get it; social media management is kind of a pain in the you-know-what. There’s strategy. Content creation. Posting. Engagement. Responding to DMS, Likes, and Comments. Plus, lions, tigers, and bears, Oh MY!

So the easy answer is to get an intern to do it. Some college kid or high schooler who loves social media and has a good number of followers. It’s low cost. You get someone who knows the platform. And most importantly, it’s off your plate.

Sounds too good to be true? That’s because it is. Let’s break down some reasons why you shouldn’t hire an intern to manage the social media for your nonprofit organization or your business.

Seven Reasons Not To Hire An Intern to Manage Your Business’s Social Media Accounts

Reason #1: You might be being ageist.

I know. I know. I know. I’ve made the joke a thousand times about needing an eighth-grader to organize my camera roll. But there is something about youth and technology.

Generalization ahead: many young people know a good deal about what’s hot in tech and social media trends. And that’s awesome.

However, just because some young people know these things, it doesn’t mean all young people do. And the converse of that is true. It doesn’t mean that older folks don’t know these things, either.

Social media is just like any other tool, like learning to use a drill or build pivot tables in Excel. No one is born talented at social media. It’s a learned skill. This means people of any age can learn how to do it well.

What You Might Want To Do Instead:

So when it comes down to looking for someone to manage your social media marketing, I like to think of what Loki told Thanos in Infinity War: “I consider experience, experience.”

Look for someone to manage your social media marketing with experience OR a keen willingness to learn. That will get you much further than hiring a kid just because they’re a kid.

Reason #2: It’s a lot of work.

Internships are sometimes unpaid. Social media management is a big job. The joke online is about how the social media manager in the office is also the videographer, the writer, the editor, the photographer, the post-production editor, etc.. the list goes on and on.

(via @Hootsuite on Instagram)

And that’s just the content creation piece. You still need someone to manage and nurture your online community. And we’re only talking about one social media platform thus far!

To quote another movie reference, let’s use Heath Ledger’s joker: “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.”

What You Might Want To Do Instead:

There are some things in life where you get what you pay for. Social media management is one of them.

I’m not saying the more you pay, the more you get – but I am saying that it’s a big job, and if you want someone to do it for you and do it well, it’s going to cost a little bit of green.

Reason #3: Institutional and [Work] Culture Knowledge

I think of institutional and social knowledge as how an organization works and gets things done. It’s like how you know that you can always drop off a snickers bar and compliment Shawn in Finance when you know you were late in getting him a report, and he’s still going to process your stuff on time.

Maybe that was a bit too specific, but you catch my drift. It’s the who and the how, and the culture that makes an organization tick.

This knowledge is key to having an effective social media presence. But hiring someone external to your organization to manage your social media marketing will always have this challenge – whether it’s an intern or if you outsource to a company like New Why.

So, even when we take over complete management of an organization’s social media accounts, we still make sure that we have a “guy in the chair” (this one is from Spiderman Homecoming), which can provide us with some institutional knowledge.


What You Might Want To Do Instead:

We recommend that you always have a dedicated individual (or two or three) who can interface with the social media management team and provide that cultural and institutional knowledge to ensure your social media is timely, accurate, and brand-right.

Reason #4: Managing a business’ social media is not the same as managing personal social media accounts.

If you check online for social media manager job descriptions, many will ask for the applicant’s personal handle to demonstrate what the applicant can do online.

This should be a red flag. Managing personal social media is different from addressing a business’s social media account needs.

First, many platforms have different tools and levels of accessibility for business accounts vs. personal accounts. So we’re not even talking apples to apples here.

Secondly, business accounts tend to have (or at least should) specific social media goals in mind. For example, they may want to build brand awareness, attract volunteers, or identify leads. On the other hand, personal social media accounts are usually just that – personal – so people share private information for friends and family or to be trendy.

What You Might Want To Do Instead:

Ask qualified candidates about their experience managing a social media account for a business or a nonprofit organization. If they don’t have that experience, ask them how they think it’s different (answers are above, so if you are a potential social media intern candidate, you’ve already aced this question!)

Reason #5: You need to spend money on ads. Seriously.

Here’s a brutal and honest truth. To be truly successful on most social media platforms right now, you have to spend some money on ads. Gone are the days where you can post great content and wait for it to go viral, and boom – here come the increases in your followers/leads/ volunteers/ whatever.

No, my friends, social media is all about that green. Remember, META is not a nonprofit organization. It’s not providing you Facebook and Instagram for free because they are a benevolent organization. They are a business, and they make their money by, you guessed it – ads.

Facebook, in particular, is more “pay-to-play” these days, so relying strictly on organic reach for your posts isn’t going to get you too far. Even Oprah doesn’t have stellar organic reach!

So if you’re getting serious about social media, you’ll also have to throw a little money into ads. Even $20 a month will do. To do that, you need to know a thing or two about social media advertising (which we do). Depending on your organization type, you may need special authorizations from the platform to run ads.

What You Might Want To Do Instead:

You can undoubtedly get an intern or yourself personally up and running to administer Facebook ads. Or you can hire a company like New Why to do the advertising for you and leave the content creation and strategy stuff internal. Just giving you some options here.

Reason #6: Your Intern is Now Responsible For Your Company’s Public Image

I used to teach a marketing class for students where we talked about their personal brand. One of the key messages we tried to drive home was that anything you put on the internet is like getting a tattoo. The internet is forever.
Now I’m quoting Outkast in “Ms. Jackson” when I say, “Forever, forever, ever, forever, ever?”

Yeah, forever.

So whoever manages your social media marketing needs to be able to nail your brand’s voice. Take these examples of some “faux pas” committed by the social media person that weren’t quite brand right.

And there are some accounts that have a very specific brand voice like these.

So before you outsource your social media management, make sure whoever is doing the posting has a good idea of your brand voice and tone. And if not, at least make sure you approve all posts before they go out.

What You Might Want To Do Instead:

One of the first things they teach you about marketing is brand personas. In short, you’re asking the question, if your brand was a person, what would they be like?

This sort of activity can help whoever you give your social media manager an idea of what you want your brand to sound like online. This is invaluable for posts but also for engaging with other accounts. Ensure that your brand is also commenting in a brand-right tone or voice.

Reason #7: The Transition

Interns are usually temporary employees, which means down the line, there’s going to be a time when you need to transition your social media management to another intern or another employee. For example, if your intern was nailing it on some of the things we talked about (brand, tone, institutional knowledge, etc.), then it’s going to be tough to hand that over to someone smoothly and keep your social media accounts up and running.

We have had social media clients come and go over the years, and we always are really thoughtful about how we transition their social media management back to them. However, even with our comprehensive training and handoff process, it can be challenging for a new person to take over an account – especially if they haven’t been doing social media at all.

Remember our point above about it being a lot of work? There are a lot of moving parts to manage.

So when you hand over social media management to “Terry” because your intern is studying abroad next semester, it can be a lot for Terry to take over. Why?

Because Terry already has a full plate and didn’t want to do social media. And your intern had lots of time to do fancy things, and they were super eager and excited about social media. So this doesn’t set Terry up to be successful, does it?

What You Might Want To Do Instead:

When considering bringing on an intern to manage your social media, you should have an in-depth understanding of what they will do, how they will do it, and what the transition plan is for when they leave. Don’t just hand things to the intern and walk away.

Make these decisions at the start of the intern’s tenure with you, not at the end. This allows ample time to cross-train the new social media person/team and set that person up for success. That way, Terry or whoever doesn’t end up with a task they don’t know how to do while your intern takes selfies at the Eiffel Tower.

Your intern while you struggle with social. Don’t let this be you!

The #1 Reason You Should Hire An intern To Manage Your Social Media

Let’s say you found someone passionate about your organization, has the time to dedicate and is eager and ready to learn how to take over your social media platforms. Congratulations! Hire that person immediately and pay them a great livable wage!

But also, make sure you give us a call. Did you know that New Why can train your intern or employees to manage social media marketing? Yeah, we do that too!

We can help get you, your team, and your interns well-versed on what to know about social media in 2023, how to build a winning content strategy, and what to do to grow and develop an engaged online community. So contact us today – we’d love to learn more about you and your organization and how we can help.




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