How to Properly Task An Intern For Social Media

September 12th, 2011 by | Comments Off on How to Properly Task An Intern For Social Media

Last time we spoke, I explained the reasons why you shouldn’t hire and intern to handle your social media. I explained to you how foolhearted it is to trust your whole online identity to someone who has little to no financial interest in your company. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have an intern work with your social media. Quite the contrary. A student intern is well poised to learn about the field of social media and most likely is into social media more than a good percentage of your coworkers.

To shed further light on this matter and provide you with greater insight on how to harness your social media intern, I interviewed Denton Biety from Prevision Development. Denton has led campaigns for multinational corporations such as Ford, Snapple and Warner Bros. Home Media. Denton goes on in this interview to explain how to properly use your intern to strengthen your social media campaign.

Daniel: So lets get into it, you’ve hired an intern. What should they be doing?
Denton: Overall the best way to leverage an intern’s involvement with your social media initiatives depends entirely on the intern.  How much, if any, business or marketing experience do they have? Are they a great writer and excellent communicator? Are they an analytical thinker who can develop and understand reporting to measure the effectiveness of your programs with respect to the KPIs (key performance indicator) you establish for your social media programs? Are they detail oriented? Can they spell? All of these factors are essential to the effective performance of a social media marketer.

Daniel: So its more about finding the jobs they can do that are best for their particular skills rather than cramming them into one particular area.
Denton: Precisely.

So once we have figured out what those particular skills are, how can any intern help a social media team create a better campaign?
Denton: Content planning. In my experience, optimal engagement via social networks varies for each brand, product, or service.  Every audience is unique. However, effectively measuring key engagement metrics like interactions, unsubscribes, ReTweets, etc. will help you see the frequency and type of content you should be posting. In my experience 3-4 posts to your Facebook page weekly, and 3-4 tweets daily is a good baseline for your content planning. This can require a great deal of time to do effectively. If an intern can assist with this, or at least do some legwork to generate ideas your more senior staff can riff on, it can be a great use of an intern’s time.

Daniel: Let’s say your intern has a bit more writing skill and you would like to harness that. What would be a great way for both your intern and your social media team to mutually benefit from their work?
Denton: If your intern has great ideas on generating content assisting with copywriting may be a great task for your intern. Using an excel template, and intern can create a content plan that indicates what days and perhaps what time of day you will post, tweet, etc. If they are an effective communicator, they may be able to adopt the tone or voice your more knowledgeable staff has cultivated or is cultivating via social media, and produce a good portion of the content you’ll be deploying. Ultimately, this spreadsheet should go to more senior and experienced marketers for review, approval, or editing. However, a lot of the initial legwork may be a good job for an intern.

Daniel: Say your intern is into marketing or business, what jobs may be best suited for them?
Denton: Reporting and research. Without solid reporting in place there is no way to know your ROI with respect to your social media programs. Developing KPIs and leveraging key sources for analytic information to develop solid reports is something better suited to a senior marketing professional with a great deal of experience. One challenge in generating actionable reports to better evaluate the effectiveness of your social media is where to gather the data. Facebook Insights, web analytics (Google analytics, Omniture, etc.) 3rd party Twitter reporting tools (Hootsuite, twittercounter, etc.) and social media monitoring tools (Radian6, Google Alerts, Visible Technologies, etc.) are all pertinent data sources. Reports will likely include key data from all these sources. As such, there’s a good deal of legwork required in generating these reports on a weekly or monthly basis. Once an intern has been trained in how to gather the data and input it into your templates, this can be a great ongoing task for them.

Daniel: And what about the research portion?
Denton: As social marketers, one of the very first steps to any campaign is to identify key influencers in our target markets.  Are there Twitter users, Bloggers, YouTube Vloggers you can identify and engage for cross-promotional opportunities? An intern can research and develop a list of key influencers to target with your messaging and/or promotions or partnership marketing offers. Once we have found and identified those people, we must find out how they [and the rest of the world] feel about our brand. In Social media this is called “sentiment scoring.” In the event that you are using a social media monitoring tool such as Radian6 or Visible Technologies, sentiment scoring can be a simple task for an intern. Essentially, these products will identify tweets or blog posts mentioning your brand, and they will attempt to “Score” that mention as “positive” or “negative” based on their proprietary algorithms. A mundane task that helps these tools score sentiment around your brand more accurately is to manually review the automated scores and correct them if needed.

Daniel: Lastly, say you have an intern who floats between many jobs and stations. Are there any roles a “floating intern” may assist with to help out the social media team?
Denton: Profile management is a labor-intensive undertaking, and senior social marketing resources may not have time to keep up with the demands of maintaining fan pages or twitter conversations on a day-to-day basis. Does your Facebook page wall have comments enabled? Are you using Twitter to respond to customer service or any other mentions or direct messages? While I would not recommend relying on an intern to determine the guidelines around removing comments from your wall or blog, or responding personally to twitter mentions or questions – an intern can perform the time-consuming but important task of monitoring your social profiles on key networks. Whether they are deleting comments containing expletives from Facebook due to your company’s guidelines, or whether they are forwarding inquiries to key internal personnel, having an intern handling these day-to-day responsibilities is a good use of their time.

Do you agree with Denton’s tips? Have they helped? What would you like to hear about? We’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts. Tell us at or

Denton Biety began his online marketing career as one of the first employees of, a leading marketing solutions provider for the music industry.  With over ten years of experience developing and managing interactive marketing campaigns for top brands including Fremantle Media / American Idol, Marvel Comics, Universal/Vivendi, Nokia, and others, Denton has deep experience in many disciplines of online marketing including social media, email, search and affiliate marketing as well as branded application development, website development analytics and optimization.  Prior to joining Precision Development, Denton led social media marketing programs for Ford Motor Company, Snapple and Warner Bros. Home Video as an Account Director at M80, a leading social media marketing agency.  Denton is a graduate of the University of Virginia. Denton may be reached personally via LinkedIn: and on Twitter:!/dentonbiety

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