Social Media – Is it still just the intern’s job?

Social media has often been thought of as a non-essential part of the marketing mix. The kind of thing you do because everyone else is doing it. It’s very often the case that the business owner’s perception of this branch of marketing is that it’s a job assigned to the intern, or possibly an already over-worked assistant. As a result “social media marketing” is never elevated above the process of posting an occasional tweet about an industry-related article, or a cute picture of a sleeping cat on Facebook.

However, new data released by Jobs in Social Media suggests that you get what you pay for when it comes to social media marketing, and real expertise in the field comes at a cost. A social media account executive can command up to $73,000 per year (around £45,500), but before parting with this kind of money, you have to ask what they’re doing that the intern can’t.

Obviously, you’re getting more than just the posts and the tweets. By hiring someone to manage your social media accounts you should be getting someone familiar with the ins and outs of all social media platforms, who can navigate them in their sleep (although sleep-tweeters should be avoided at all costs.) They should also be apt at keeping up to date with changes, and be able to recognise and adopt new trends.

They should be familiar with advertising on various platforms, and have experience in building ad campaigns that deliver results. Experience is often the key to these roles, and this is something that you should be willing to pay for. Make sure you identify applicants with experience in your industry too, as the approach and technique will vary with different products, brands, and target demographics.

If you’re hiring someone to write your blog, they should also be familiar with how to optimise the content for search engines, how to use a variety of content management systems (CMS), and how to network efficiently  Anyone can spend 3 hours a day idly commenting on other blogs, but it takes a quality blogger with experience to find and identify influential and valuable blogs to reach out to.

And finally, if you’re hiring someone to manage your engagement or community, then they will have to be natural people person. But this isn’t the only quality you should be looking for. A good engagement co-ordinator must be able to identify peak times for posting, respond to trends in demographics and to adjust their tone and approach depending on their audience. It’s a role that is more analytical than one might think, and you should be looking for someone with equal parts communication and analytical skills. The ability to easily converse online is only one small part of the whole package.

So, have I convinced that it isn’t just a role for the intern anymore? By all means, allow interns and work experience participants to get their feet wet and try their hand at social media, but don’t be mistaken for thinking this is a viable long-term strategy.