Top 8 Marketing Lessons To Teach Your Social Media Intern


social-media-internBehold your 20-something social media intern.

He or she is smarter than you were at that age, likely using Google for the majority of his or her life, and using social on the net since the age of 14.

But even though your intern has ‘facebooking’ for so long, we all know that doesn’t mean they actually know how to use the medium for marketing.

They don’t know the value of a ‘like’.  Transitioning from social media consumer to social media marketer is something we should be assisting any entry level professional with.

As you recruit help for your social media team, here are some practical tips you can use to help make your intern’s transition from user to master smoother than you can imagine.

1. Don’t Focus 100% On Selling

Yes, it is marketing. And yes, a social media professional’s efforts should equate to either making their brand more money or saving them money. You clearly know you cannot share product links all day, but this might be a lesson new employees need some guidance on.

It’s important that your intern understand the purpose of sharing content with your community that is not necessarily selling them something or talking about the brand directly. Share with them that social media is communal and it’s important that your audience sees you as a company that wants to share information with them, not just pitch them products.

2. Communication Is A Two-Way Street

Millennials are set to become the most-educated generation in the nation’s history. They’re literally know-it-alls.

It’s a good tip to remind your intern that listening is as important as talking to others.

Positively interacting with the community when they take the first step is important for all social brands. It can go a long way to help build your brand for little or no cost other than a funny comment, compliment or emoticon.


3. The Value of Targeted Messages

We listen more, as consumers, when there is a reason to listen. Teaching your intern the importance of relevance gives them insight into the difference between conversation and messaging. You might also save them from becoming another Kenneth Cole.


Let them know that hijacking a conversation, just because a lot of people are involved, does not mean it will be helpful to the brand.

Teach them that there are better times to share than others. Use social media monitoring tools like Twitalyzer, Facebook Insights, Gorkana, Social Mention and Vocus to collect data from your audience so you can shape and target your posts, tweets and updates.

4. It’s not all about you

Let’s face it, millennials aren’t the only ones who have jumped on the “me” bandwagon. We all can get a little overzealous in sharing our product, company and brand on social media. Tell your intern and remind others that social media works better if it also promotes the audience.

Promoting your customer’s their ideas, feedback, zeal and willingness to engage is a good way to encourage community through social networks.

Threadless is a perfect example of a multi-million dollar company giving back to their community.  They spotlight their users who submit artwork and make it more about the artist than the product and the reason way they have one of the top brand followings on Twitter. Their forums show how the company is more of a platform than a brand, a community of people that help and support each other (and the brand) for the good of all.

threadless forums

5. Brands Have A Personality Too

There is a big difference between how Taco Bell tweets and say, the White House. Silly verses serious.

Interns are making the transition from personal conversations to brand conversations. The perspective is very different. It is also important to understand that what another company might see as success in social media, might not work for your brand.

Teach your intern about the brand personality. Give them examples of phrases, responses and content that represents the brand values well AND examples of content that does not represent the brand well.

6. Seeing Is Believing

In social media pictures are the golden goose. Facebook, Twitter and, of course, YouTube all place more emphasis on visual stimuli than any other form of sharing. And now we have two more social media outlets that focus on the power of imagery alone in Instagram and Pinterest.

Teach your young Luke Skywalker how to create visuals that market your brand, but don’t push products. It’s more science than art, but once they learn that skill it could significantly boost your engagement and the so-called social lift of your messaging.

This one might not be too hard considering 69% of 18-24 year olds already share photos/video they’ve created themselves.

7. Customer Service Can Be Fun


Remind your intern that when they are managing a brand social media channel, they become a customer service rep by default. Even if their only task is to flag customer messages that need to be responded to by full time customer service staff, they still need to understand the system at work.

Customers can be mean, nasty, very influential, and waiting to critique everything your intern posts. Remind your young staff members that they are also a consumer Thinking like the consumer has had a bad customer service experience can help them understand what is at stake.

Give them clear directions on how and when they can respond and when something should be moved up the hierarchy, above their pay grade. Knowing when not to respond is just as powerful of a lesson.

8. Put A Firewall Between Personal and Business Accounts

KitchenAid. StubHub. Chick-Fil-A. Have them Google those names along with “social media mistakes” and commit the cases to memory.


This is a lesson learned by millenials, Generation Yer’s, Xer’s, and Baby Boomers alike. Digital is forever, and mistakes quickly become negative case studies.

Make sure your interns learn how to juggle their social media with brand social media accounts.


Let’s not get too down on the millennial generation. After all it comprises some of the smartest, most globally conscious and truly innovative men and women on the planet. They know their stuff.

They just might not know marketing… yet.

So it’s up to you to teach the next generation how to blend their natural instincts and skills with the age-old marketing tactics that have worked well before they, or you, were born.

Remind them, and even nudge yourself a bit, that social media marketing is about marketing, not social media. The medium is not the message. The message is the message. And when it comes to your brand, that’s the only truism that matters.


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