There is a very interesting post on Ragan.com. They ask whether an intern at your organization could – and should – be charged with handling social media. That is a really good question, and one that sparked a great deal of discussion at our Vancouver PR agency.
This is a subject that I feel quite strongly about. I don’t think an intern should run your social media, but I do believe that interns and other junior staffers can – and should – participate in your social media initiatives. We often encourage clients to create reverse-mentoring opportunities where a junior or intern works with a more senior staffer and helps them to navigate the online world. This way, the junior person learns from the senior person and vice versa.
Even with a strong strategic communications plan that includes social media, for the most part, an intern or junior staffer doesn’t have the wisdom, experience or the training to manage your online communications. I think that sometimes we think “social media” and have visions of young “20-somethings” in our heads and we forget that social media is just another avenue of communication.
The Ragan piece puts forward a very solid point, one that we often discuss with clients. Would you let an intern speak to media or write your organization’s newsletter without guidance and supervision? Would you let this person be the voice of your organization in other platforms? If you wouldn’t, handing off social media to an intern just doesn’t make sense.
One of the key points that we discussed here at AHA is that there is a perception that social media is free and therefore, it often falls down the food chain of communications efforts. We, at AHA, disagree. Social media is one of the strongest communications tools that many organizations have today. It is crucial that how you participate in social media is seen as a key component of your overall communications strategy, not just some little exercise you hand off to an intern.
It is definitely an interesting debate.
We would love to know what you think.