Social media is a necessary tool in any brand’s marketing toolbox, but too many decision-makers treat social as an afterthought. Business owners regularly suggest saving money by hiring interns to manage program strategy.

Using Instagram to share visual updates from the gym with the caption #FitFam is significantly different than creating properly-branded content that will help sell your product or service. Counting RTs and earning SnapChat trophies does not prepare someone for a world of Facebook conversion pixel tracking.

We Were All Interns Once

Of course, interns are fantastic for many roles in the office. Young employees are important for any business to bring fresh perspective, different skill sets and enthusiasm to the workplace. But they cannot be expected to manage complicated digital programs.  

Placing recent college graduates in roles where they analyze or create content is a great idea. Charging them with immediately running program strategy in an increasingly-digital world is foolish.

Imagine if a cursory familiarity with something meant you were qualified to make a living at it. I would be qualified to do many things I’ve never dreamed of.

For example:

  • I own a television and have watched various programs throughout my life. I've seen A LOT of commercials about razors. I'm definitely the ideal candidate to make Gillete's next spot.
  • When I was 10, I had stitches. The doctors let me remove them myself. I suppose that makes me a resident now. I should probably go update my resume.
  • I play fantasy football with my friends. Managing a fake football roster with a made-up salary cap and league rules is sort of like the real deal. I can probably outperform the coaches of the Detroit Lions or Cleveland Browns. Actually, this is a terrible example as it is probably true – but you get the point.

Using a specific type of media, being a fan of something, or owning a particular type of technology does not automatically qualify someone as an expert. More importantly, it severely devalues what digital media professionals do for a living. It is a dangerous line of thinking. The same line of thinking that makes the same business owners and marketers believe they can get value from social media without being strategic.

Like any form of advertising, social media requires a thoughtful approach, correct leadership and proper execution to succeed. So, who will you trust to take the reigns?