Have you ever heard the quote, “A society breeds/cultivates what it values”?
It doesn’t take much to see values are also hinged on salaries. The written word, or education for that matter, is valued considerably less than say football. The less you pay for something, the less it matters.
I mean no disrespect to interns. There are many skilled communicators among their ranks and they can help chambers in a big way but placing a valuable resource such as your social media connections in the hands of someone who has never held a full-time job is risky at best.
If you’re tempted to do this it’s time to reevaluate the value you place on social media and member communication.
Why Interns Shouldn’t Handle Your Chamber Social Media
While there are some interns with experience in the business world, many of them simply don’t have it. They are likely very skilled at using social media, boast thousands of friends on Facebook, and post to Instagram every minute, but a social media strategy for business is worlds away from tweeting about prom.
You need someone who can build an audience based on becoming a strong resource for the community. Interns can if you guide them and give them assignments that correspond with your strategy. Interns are often incredibly creative and approach things from a different perspective. When applied to special projects (like a welcome video) this can be very refreshing and they can produce some marvelous work.
But don’t rely on them to curate content and post it without talking about direction, strategy, and your member demographic.
They also won’t have the experience to know how to deal with difficult people or how to respond to them on social media.
Yes, some interns are so amazing chambers end up hiring them upon graduation. But if not, you are placing a critical communication tool in the hands of someone who is a temporary part of your team. Social media is an ongoing duty that doesn’t fall within the constraints of 9-5.
If you place a temp in the role of chamber social media, flesh out a plan for off-hours and how responses should be handled and escalated, if required. Most likely you will need to assign a staff member this back-up role.
Make sure you are clear about expectations as well as any posting considerations for their private accounts. Personal and professional lines are not something they see clearly. You may need to define them and share your social media policy, if you have one.
It Says Something About Your Feelings on Social Media
Getting back to the value argument, farming out your social media to someone who is not a permanent part of the team is a risky thing to do but it also says something about the value you place on this role. You would never farm out legislative initiatives or economic development, yet social media probably directly impacts your members more than those two areas.
Interns can be an incredibly valuable asset to your chamber but they should never run the show. Your social media profiles and posts are the outward virtual face of your chamber and posts cannot be “unposted.” As content becomes more important and writing becomes less (thanks to texts), good business communication is not something that’s being taught everywhere in every college program.
Placing a temporary employee in the role of chamber social media coordinator requires an incredible amount of responsibility. Sometimes it’s not a question of if they can do it, but if they should.