Your Company’s Social Media: A Job for the Intern?


You’ve probably heard this before: “Couldn’t we just get some interns to do that?”

When it comes to a company’s social media, experts say it takes planning, authority, and company knowledge. Interns definitely can help with it, but too much control over branding could be a bad thing.

At Billboard Magazine, interns work on many things, from branding and creative services to helping the sales team and working events. They also get pulled into brainstorming meetings and their job includes social media. Most of the social media, however, is based on reporting – monitoring and collecting info to share internally.

Katie Morse, social marketing manager with Billboard in New York, said it’s important for internships to serve as a learning experience for the individual.

“We’re concerned with making it something valuable,” Morse said. “Internships especially have gone the way of cheap entry-level employees. In my mind, that’s not the way an internship should run. The focus needs to be preparing them to get that first job out of college. It’s a hands-on collaborative effort. It’s important to show the interns how what they do affects everything else in the business.”

Sometimes, the job involves coming up with copy for tweets, especially if the tweet relates to a person’s favorite artist. 

But as far as pushing the button on Twitter or posting on Billboard’s channels, Morse said, that’s handled by either herself or a full-time Billboard employee. She said, “Quite frankly, I would prefer it to be my head if someone screws up than an intern’s head.”

Novozymes, a global bioinnovation company that produces enzymes for household products, also allows its interns the opportunity to participate in social media. 

A company spokesman said this has been useful for Novozymes, especially because interns are in the target age for those using social media these days.

“They’re experts in social media already because they do this in their daily life,” said Chris Bender, head of public affairs and communications for Novozymes North America. “They know how to post things and take compelling images. It makes sense to draw upon that expertise and give them the opportunity to help drive our social media channels or improve the social media we’re already doing.”

Jonathan Sexton, CEO of Socialgladiator.com and a strategic and creative director with an ad agency in Cincinnati, agrees that it’s important to find interns who have a slant toward social media.

“Anytime a brand gives itself over to an individual – you really have to know what you’re doing with social media,” Sexton said. “A year ago, you had to have a website. Today, people are saying you have to have social media, and a lot of companies don’t know how to do that.”

Sexton said he’s worked with many interns over the years, particularly during his time as director of marketing for The J. Peterman Company. 

“[Interns] had no authority to post, but I used them in different social media capacities – research and monitoring and managing some of the blog site,” Sexton said. “I tend to steer away from giving an intern a full role in social media. However, when it comes to interns – I look for someone who is sharp and social savvy. You can always work with that and train on voice with the brand. A good idea can come from anywhere, and certain people will start to stand out.”

At Novozymes, that person was their intern, Peter.

The company recently tapped Peter to help manage the promotion of a new film called Freedom, which discusses how if the country made the transition to biofuels, there would be a positive impact on national security and the economy. 

The aim was to drive traffic to the film site through Novozymes’ social media channels.

“We knew that Peter would be able to pull out the facts that would have the most impact on the group we want to target with the film,” Bender said. “He knows what they would react to because it’s what he would react to.”

Christine Cube is a media relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. You can follow her @cpcube.