5 Ways to Guide Your Social Media Intern


If you recently hired a social media intern to help with community management, you may be at a loss of what to do next. In fact, your new intern probably thinks they already know everything about social media.

This 20-something intern’s first foray with the Internet was learning HTML and CSS to create their Myspace background, adopted Facebook when you still needed a .edu address to sign up, and “Googled” their answers instead of using an encyclopedia.

Don’t be fooled by their Internet skills. There is a difference between a casual social media consumer and a social media marketer. It’s your job to guide their transition from casual user to social media marketer.

1. Training Before Posting

Don’t give your intern access to all of the social media accounts and tell them to go wild on day one. Your intern is likely transitioning from personal conversations to brand conversations; they need to learn your brand’s voice. Show them examples of phrases, responses and content that represents your brands values. It’s ideal to have a social media brand guide they can always refer too. Here’s how to write effective guidelines

2. Setting Measurable Goals

Introduce your intern into the community slowly one network at a time, proofing their posts before they’re allowed to go live. Twitter is a great network to start with for several reasons. With only 140 characters to get their message across, it will make your intern a stronger writer. Writing shorter messages will force them to get straight to the point, and really think about the branding message they’re trying to convey. Twitter will also allow them to connect with the community, whether it’s interacting with brand consumers directly or learning what the community is talking about.

Remember you can’t expect your intern to do something you wouldn’t or haven’t done yourself. Setting measurable goals, and weekly task lists will help them stay on track. Your intern could bring a fresh perspective to your campaigns so encourage them to think outside the box. They may have new ideas for creative posts such as a funny visual aid for a tweet, or an Instagram video featuring a new product.

3. Communication is Key

It’s as important to listen on social, as it is to talk about your brand. A community manager wears many hats, including responding to community members. Your intern should have clear directions on how and when to respond to comments as well as when to report to a manager. Knowing the appropriate response when interacting with the community whether it’s a compliment, or a funny comment can help build your brand. For example, if a news outlet mentions your company, you want your intern to tell you about the press hit! It’s positive news. On the negative side, if there is a complaint against the company you want to make sure your intern is responding appropriately to remedy the situation.

4. It’s not about the sell

You can’t share product links or push your own brand all day. It’s important to have an audience that sees you as a company that wants to share information with them. Show your intern how social media works better when you are promoting your audience. One of the best ways to do this is to take your intern through creating a content plan. Show them how to align a content strategy with your business goals whether it’s creating content to around community hot topics, or showcasing members of the community. Your intern will be able to see the pros of promoting the audience by measuring the results of a campaign they helped build. Not only will they have learned how to build a content strategy, they will also get to see if the content is engaging community members in conversation.

Don’t forget to show your intern when it’s not appropriate to make a sell. Have them Google “social media fails,” and specifically look at StubHub, KitchenAid, and Entenmanns. Trying to hijack a conversation that isn’t relevant to your brand isn’t productive. Through these stories, they’ll learn to always check the hashtags before jumping into trending topics.

5. Personal versus Business Accounts

Social media mistakes happen, but digital mistakes stay forever. Having your intern keep their personal account separate from business accounts is important. You want  to make sure that they don’t accidentally post personal updates on company channels. As an intern, they probably don’t need to be connected on their phone which should minimize the likelihood of an accidental post. However if they’re logged into accounts on their computer, one of the best suggestions is to have their personal accounts logged into another browser i.e. using Chrome for work accounts, and Firefox for their personal ones. Along the same vein if they’re using a personal computer, remind them to log out of all work accounts on Fridays before they go home.

It’s also good to give guidelines on how to speak about the company when they’re posting on their own channel. Since they work for you and therefore represent the company, it’d be better if they didn’t portray your brand in a negative light. Give them positive words they can use when promoting new products or content.

The lesson you are trying to impart on your intern is social media marketing is about marketing, not social media. Remember your intern will learn a lot from you, and you in turn might learn from them!


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About the author

Jessica Finger

Jessica Finger currently works for Noodle, whose mission is to help guide people everywhere to make better education decisions and get expert advice on everything from schools and colleges to graduate schools and tutors. Jessica is a graduate of Quinnipiac University, and outside of work likes reading, going to the theater, and exploring the Internet. Follow her on twitter: @jkfinger.


Thanks for the advice! Should be usefull to start my social media job ;)