Employer internship guides

How to Hire a Social Media Intern

Brown_arrow_21 Written by Nathan Parcells on Nov 26, 2012

Here’s a surprising number: 52% of consumers have admitted to “unliking” a brand on Facebook because the posts were “too repetitive and boring.” With social media growing in prominence as a factor in organic search success, lead generation, and branding, your company can’t afford to have a lackluster social media presence. The right social media intern knows how to operate the pulleys and levers behind the platforms that will help you pull ahead of your competitors. Here’s how to reach and attract top candidates, including potential social media interns.

Put the Right Foot Forward

To start your talent hunt, post an internship description that outlines what your intern will gain from the experience; see our listing template for an example. Since community management and social media strategy are relatively new positions, an inherent perk for students is the freedom to explore and innovate how content is shared. That means experimenting with a rotation of social media management tools like HootSuite, Sprout Social, and IFTTT —skills that will make them desirable candidates for future jobs.

Not that social media mavens aren’t desirable already—a professional consultant charges anywhere from $500 to $2000 to set up a Twitter account, and up to $3000 a month to manage it. With the industry standard in mind, a fair hourly rate for a social media intern is $10-$12 an hour.

Do a Background Check

It goes without saying that a social media intern should have the prerequisite Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest profiles, but it’s a red flag if each account seems misused or abandoned. Don’t expect students to have checked off all the boxes—LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google+, etc. Their skills will be much more valuable to you if they have experience getting to know the rhythms and capabilities of select social media platforms. Having an Instagram account but posting blurry, indecipherable pictures isn’t the best marketing strategy.

Don’t forget to see a writing sample as well. An intern who will have a hand in updating statuses, tweeting pithy one-liners, or penning blog entries needs to know how to be engaging and grammatically correct. Uninspiring writing can kill a campaign before it even starts.

Open Up the Discussion

Invite applicants to evaluate your current accounts to get a sense of their familiarity with social media strategy. They may point out that your Facebook posts do best between the hours of 10 and 11 a.m., or that photo posts historically outrank video links—these observations show the kind of analytical thinking that marks social media success. You may be surprised at what you learn about your accounts, as this assignment gives students a chance to research your competitors and brush up on social media best practices. A candidate who turns in an impressive report not only proves his or her know-how, but also enters the internship with a pre-populated list of action items.

Kill the Cover Letter

Last year, InternMatch paired up with thirty 500 Startup companies to launch Kill the Cover Letter. This campaign challenged students to apply to internships without a cover letter and instead find other creative outlets on blogging platforms, personal websites, podcasts, and any other venues they could dream up. Making a specification like this could rev up your social media intern search, as it guarantees a) that your candidates are passionate about your company, b) that they know their online mediums, and c) that they’re willing to shake up the routine.

This approach has gotten attention in the past. One YouTuber created an interactive video that linked to separate sections of his resume like his portfolio, skills, and contact information. A triple threat in computer science, business, and design created a sleek website professing her love for Instagram and making a strong case for employment there. Your candidates could take the torch anywhere: create an infographic about why they’re the obvious choice, record a song on Soundcloud, or create a custom Facebook Page.

Sample Internship Listing

Social Media Strategy Intern at a Fast Paced Tech Startup

Are you obsessed with finding and sharing stories online? Do your friends look to you on Facebook and Twitter for the latest trends, ideas, and memes? Social Media Corp is a San Francisco based tech startup set on changing how the world discovers and promotes news. We have over 15 million monthly unique visitors and many of the world's biggest companies including SONY and the NFL use our site ever day.

Social Media Corp has a fast paced work environment and we seek talented employees who crave learning new skills and aren't afraid to tackle big projects. As an intern you will get to work with a variety of our executive staff and will work on real projects that will help us grow.

Our ideal candidate is someone who walks into a room of people and can’t leave without making a few friends. Someone who is obsessed with social media and is creative and thoughtful when interacting with online communities and building relationships.

What You Will Learn:

• How to create a long term social media plan and marketing calendar.
• How to track social media analytics using HootSuite, Bit.ly, and other software, and report results and new ideas to our marketing team.
• How to create compelling content and get it shared by influencers.
• Techniques to create viral loops between our Facebook Page, twitter, and blog accounts
• Much more – your will work closely with our Director of Marketing and other team leaders.

What We Require:

• Background in Marketing, Communication, or other related discipline.
• Highly organized, with an ability to prioritize time-sensitive assignments.
• Fearless – not afraid to be a bold and outside the box thinker.
• Love for using social networking sites, and general excitement to learn new skills.

If this sounds interesting we want to hear from you.

The position begins May 1st and ends August 31st. You are expected to work 15 hours a week and will be paid $12/hour.

To apply please submit your resume, cover letter and portfolio to John Doe using the apply button below.

The Bottom Line

The key attributes of a social media intern—analytical, creative, and enthusiastic—require you be imaginative in how you search for talent. Engage in the hiring process as you would in a social media campaign: whether it be an anti-cover letter hiring process, an analytical test, or insights into the candidate's online presence, thinking out of the box will find you the right match for your company.

(Cover image by Birgerking found in Flickr Collective Commons here)

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