Should your intern be running your social media program?

A guest post by Megan Effertz, President at Agency 128

I frequently have people tell me their intern, neighbor’s kid or nephew is running their social media. I get the appeal. These kids have grown up on social media. They're experts at all of the social apps and know what’s new and hot, plus they are a cheap resource. Why wouldn’t you have them run yours?

But here’s the catch. They are not experts at business, especially your business, so it could cost you more than you think.

Having your college intern run your social media is the equivalent of asking a college kid who works at Home Depot to build you a house. They know all the tools, they know which ones are the best, but they don’t know how to build a house. It’d be crazy to ask them to build your house so why would you ask them to build your social media program that is so critical to your business?

Last year, businesses spent $31B worldwide on social media advertising and that number continues to grow. Social media is serious business. Just like placing traditional media (out of home, print advertising, radio and TV spots), you need a strategy behind your social media program. Social media is more than posting something catchy or interesting. It should be creating content that engages your audience to do something that helps you meet your business goals. Success needs to be measured by revenue generating activity, not the number of likes your post produced.

I’m sure your intern does a great job finding viral videos to share, but if it isn’t tied back to your business and the marketing goals you have in place it doesn’t really matter.

A successful social media program needs a clear strategy with a roadmap for your social media producers and content developers to follow.  Here are a few tips on how to create a social media strategy:

Know your audience

Who is your customer? You need to know who it is you want to reach on social media. Is it moms who do yoga or engineers who like cartoons? Social media allows you to target your audience based on demographics, geography, and interests - so get specific.

What social media channels are your customers engaged with? Is your audience professionals that network? If yes, they are probably on LinkedIn. If they are people looking to do a home remodel, you can probably find them on Houz or Pinterest. Pick your social media channels wisely.

What type of content do they like to consume? Do they like watching “how-to” videos, are they readers who like white papers, or visual skimmers that only stop at interesting graphics. Once you know how they consume information you can make a plan to create content that your audience will want to consume.

Be deliberate about what you want

Now that you know who you want to reach and how best to reach them, you need to determine what you want them to do. Do you just want to raise brand awareness? Do you want them to buy something or learn more about your product or service? Once you’ve determined what you want them to do, you need to think about where they are in their buying process to help you lead them to the ultimate goal.

HubSpot does a great job defining the buyer’s journey and has tools to help you map out the buying stages and create goals for each stage of the journey. Knowing what stage they are at is key to developing good content to help them move to the next stage of the buying process.

Don’t post without a plan

You know who you want to reach, where you want to reach them and what you want them to do once they have connected with you. Now you have to give them a reason to engage with you and that’s with content. Don’t post without a plan. To create a good content plan, remember these tips:

    1. Be intentional about what you share on different sites
    2. Create content in a medium your audience wants to consume
    3. Don’t go stale – post frequently, at a minimum a couple of times a week
    4. Don’t make content about you – make it about your audience and talk about what they care about, not what you care about
    5. Have a clear call to action

Create a plan that covers the next 3-6 months. This becomes a roadmap that you can turnover to content developers and social media producers. You can share this plan with your intern to allow them to create successful posts that move your business forward.

Be efficient

There are a number of tools out there that will help you manage various social media platforms from one spot. This will help you create posts faster and monitor results in one place. These tools are easy to use and save you time and money on managing your programs.

Check out Hootsuite for an affordable tool to manage your social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, or Hubspot for a more integrated approach to the rest of your marketing campaigns.

Watch & learn

Now that you’ve built a plan, created content and got it efficiently out into the digital world, make sure you pay attention to what is happening. Is your audience doing what you wanted? Is the plan working – are you meeting your goals? Monitor engagement with your different channels and content pieces. Watch and learn what your audience likes the best and adjust your social media plan accordingly.

It’s okay to have your intern, neighbor’s kid or nephew run your social media program as long as you have invested in and created a strong content plan for them to follow.

Megan Effertz is an entrepreneur, business and marketing consultant and President of Agency 128, a 40+ year old strategic marketing firm. Prior to becoming President of Agency 128, Megan held executive, sales, and marketing roles in a variety of industries including health care, manufacturing, marketing technology & services and real estate.