You know social media can be a valuable tool for your business -- you just haven’t found the time to prioritize it. But then it hits you.
“I’ll just get an intern to help!” After all, it’s a cheap solution and those college kids know everything about that social media thing. It sounds plausible, and yet, it could be one of the worst mistakes you make for your business.
Consider this: after a Google search, social media is often the very next place potential customers, investors and employees look before deciding to work with you.
An effective social media strategy earns you the attention of industry influencers, drives interested visitors back to your website and increases conversions. But an ineffective social media strategy will make your company look uneducated, impersonal or unhelpful. Poorly managed social media channels irritate customers, make employees second-guess their affiliation with your company and get people talking about you for all the wrong reasons.
In short, your social media presence is a digital window into your company and its operations. That’s a lot of responsibility for an intern who A) doesn’t have the experience to manage social media for a business and B) doesn’t know nearly enough about your business to represent you authentically online.
A good social media manager is not just someone who owns a smartphone and happens to enjoy social media in their personal life. Just because you watch TV doesn’t mean you can produce television ad campaigns, and the same is true for social media.
It’s far too easy to accidentally make your company look dumb online to delegate social media management to a newbie. Too much automation? You look impersonal. Using social media as a sales megaphone? You come across as spammy. To make matters worse, all it takes is one wrong tweet, one politically incorrect statement, oneincorrectly used hashtag, to get your customers shaking their heads in frustration.
When your customers decide to use social media as an outlet to complain or ask questions, will your intern know enough to handle those problems? Will they know when to answer those queries directly and when to direct them to your customer service department? Or will your customers get ignored, and turn, frustrated, to your competitors. (“At least they answer my questions,” they’ll grumble.)
Interns are short term solutions. They work for a few months to get some entry-level experience in your industry. There a real risks having your social media manager just figuring it out along the way.
Perhaps you’ve delegated social media to an intern or are thinking of doing so. You aren’t putting many resources behind your social media presence, and think of it as something you “should be doing” rather than an opportunity to expand your company’s reach online.
Consider this a wake up call. As the business owner, you’re ultimately responsible for the success of your company. You’re responsible for putting the right pieces in place and supporting the initiatives that will help your company thrive.
If you haven’t really bought into the idea of social media for your business, then you’ll have a newbie managing your platforms and you’ll wonder why you can’t get social media to work for you. Instead, take social media seriously, as you would any other communication and marketing initiative.
Give social media the respect it deserves. Accept its pros and cons, its benefits and consequences. Understand its power to market your business, engage with customers, and influence public perception. Realize its opportunity to easily answer client questions and respond to customer complaints...or not. Get excited by the opportunity to rise above the noise and situate yourself as a go-to leader in the industry.
How you choose to use social media will have long-term consequences for your business, either good or bad. That’s not a job to be delegated to a short-term labor solution. There’s certainly nothing wrong with involving your interns in your social media activity, but do yourself a favor and leave management to the experts.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.