Today’s blog topic came from my friend Jeff Lipschultz.

There’s been a lot of talk (and action) lately centered around “Social Media Interns.” Can you share with us the parameters for having an effective program? Some work for free. Some work remotely. Qualifications? Training required? Return-on-investment (of time/dollars).

It won’t come as a surprise to some of you that I don’t think interns should be doing your social media (sorry JC Maldonado!). It’s not that they can’t Facebook and tweet for you. It’s that they don’t have business experience to set the strategy for which tools you use, how you use them, and how you engage your customers.

Can they set you on the networks? Absolutely! Can they help you reserve your names on Name Check? For sure! Can they teach you how to use the tools. Yes!

At Arment Dietrich, we don’t hire interns until they’ve graduated from college. We learned, early on, that we were training college students the basics of communication, sending them back to school, and letting them go work for another company. If we hire them after they’ve graduated from college, we have a better chance of teaching them the basics and then hiring them full-time.

Same goes for your company.  Interns do not have business experience. Just like you wouldn’t let them pitch a new business prospect, present to the board, or (in our business) call reporters, why would you have them engage and connect with your customers, your employees, your stakeholders, and your prospects?

And Jeff? If an intern works for free…you get what you pay for.

I wrote about this topic earlier this year, as well as was interviewed about it by The Big Money. You can see the blog post here, along with A LOT of comments from interns who were doing social media work for the summer.

What do you think?

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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