It’s that time of year when companies are looking to hire interns to do the menial tasks typically relegated to its entry level employees. When I visit many companies, the interns do little more than flip through magazines (“coverage searches”), cold call media (“pitching”) or conduct multiple Google searches for their clients (“research”).
But what if a communications team actually used its interns to learn more about this social media thing everyone’s talking about? Here are ten ways I might consider putting summer interns to work:
1. Social Media Overviews: Instruct each intern to create a 30 minute presentation on the social media platform of his/her choice that includes an overview, how its used and how your business might participate. There’s a good example here.
2. Competitive Analysis: Ask an intern to build a full social media profile analysis of a competitor or client. This might include what platforms they use, how they participate and some metrics do determine how they are successful. There’s a good example here.
3. Account creation/customization: If college students learn anything during their four to six years of higher learning, it’s how to create a social media profile that will attract attention. Allow them to create and populate some of your executive’s social media accounts. Then, set up some time for the intern to teach the executive about the platform. For example, if it’s a Twitter account, the intern could select a user name, fill in the bio, create a custom background and begin following relevant people in your company’s field. This post from TwitTip has some important considerations for building a business profile on Twitter.(NOTE: The intern should not participate on behalf of the executive, but set up the account and introduce the platform as appropriate).
4. (Social) Media Research: Which social media platforms are your main media contacts using? Are they blogging? Using Twitter? Do they want to be contacted through any of these by your company? This is a long term project, but might be really helpful to some of your colleagues who are apt to “pitch first and ask questions later.”
5. Template creation: If your intern knows Photoshop or another design program, it might be fun to have him/her create customized templates for your firm’s Twitter pages or a logo/avatar for your company’s employees. You can find Twitter background templates here and here are some awesome Twitter backgrounds for inspiration.
6. RSS building: I’ve said before that an RSS feed is one of the most important tools for any communications professional. If you’ve never taken the time to set up an RSS reader to monitor social media activity around your brand, your client or your industry, this is an awesome task for an intern. Once it’s set up, though, you have to use it! Here’s a good place to start.
7. Blog monitoring: There are hundreds of millions of blogs, and probably hundreds that reference your brand or industry. So how do you choose which ones to follow? I’ve written about this before, but perhaps your intern can conduct some research and report back about the most important blogs in your niche.
8. Blogging: As you may have heard, Pizza Hut is hiring a
Vice President Twitter intern for the Summer. While I wouldn’t necessarily entrust an intern to develop my company’s social media strategy, I might like them to post about their experiences on my internal or external blog. Not only will it showcase another side to your company, namely that you’re empowering your interns, but it also provides your team with important feedback about the internship. It gives future interns insight into what they can expect as well, which could be good or bad depending on how you treat your interns!
9. Web Analysis: When it comes to e-commerce, usability and design, my guess is that most web savvy college age students have seen their fair share of websites. Invite your intern to provide an in-depth analysis of your corporate site. Is it easy to find your press room? Are their high resolution product shots easily available? How many clicks does it take to make a purchase? These are just some of the factors that consumers are interested in. A fresh set of eyes from your target demographic might be useful.
10. Video: The communications professional of the future will have a very different skill set than many of us have today. They will likely be well versed in most type of online media, have some ability to manipulate images in Photoshop or Illustrator and most likely know how to edit video. If these are skills your company values, then let them start by recording a couple of interviews with executives and editing them together. Even if they’re not perfect, the point of an internship is to learn, and these are already proven skills that will benefit both the intern and the company.
Finally, I’m going to add getting coffee to the list. Yeah, it kind of sucks. But if they’re already doing even one of the above tasks, is it really too much to ask for a good cup of coffee as well? It’s just part of paying your dues.
So what types of tasks do your summer interns perform? Would you trust them with your social media research or activity?
Photo credit: adpowers