Last Updated Aug 11, 2010 3:10 PM EDT
Recently, writing on The Business Insider War Room, Lisa Barone of Outspoken Media, charts a middle way. She argues that while social media shouldn't be left in the unsupervised hands of your lowest paid employees, the college students at your office are probably far better at interacting online than the higher ups. So even if you don't hand them the keys to the social media castle, remind yourself to act like them. Why?
- Interns are chatty. Good luck trying to get a CEO on the phone. You'd have to call in a bomb threat. And even then they'd only be on the phone to try and get off the phone. It's hard to have a conversation or make a connection with someone who really isn't listening... Interns, on the other hand, are so happy not to be photocopying something that they'll talk about anything. They're chattiness may be destructive to office productivity, but the chatty mindset can help you see success in social media.
- Interns are the gatekeepers of the dirt. When you want the real story about a company, you don't ask the executives. You ask a grunt. Because the grunt has his ear to the ground. He knows the back story for the argument that went down in the conference room, and he knows that layoffs are coming based on all the closed-door meetings. While you'd rightfully fire anyone for sharing any of this information (hello, employee social media guidelines), the intern reminds us what we can learn when we're paying attention to the interactions going on around us. As we get higher up the food chain we stop seeing what's in front of our eyes. Interns can spot the dirt.
- Interns are excitable. Most CEOs are as interesting as Bill Marriot. Which, is to say, they're not very interesting at all. It's hard for customers to relate to someone who's so far out of the day-to-day that all they can talk about are loose sponsorships or the highlights of the meeting they were just in. No one likes your CEO and blogging like a CEO is going to result in a lot of dead air. Interns are the ones with the juicy stories. They hold the stuff that people want to hear and that they can relate to.
- They understand their weaknesses. Your CEO has been in business for 20 years. That means he knows everything. And he's gotten really good at shoving off the blame and focusing on making himself look like the hero in every situation. Your intern, on the other hand, is about twenty seconds old. She knows she doesn't know everything and everyone is okay with her admitting that. This is the attitude that your customers want to see coming from your business â€" one of humility, grace, and constant learning. When you land on social media pretending to be God's gift to the Internet you turn everyone off and assure they're not listening to you.
- They take chances. The higher up in the ladder you are, the less likely it is you'll take a chance. And why would you? You're likely to get in trouble, to get fired, to miss out on a promotion you've been working toward. Don't get me wrong, I get it. However, that kind of attitude is detrimental to any kind of social media campaign. The idea behind social media isn't new, however, the tools relatively are. That means to get the most out it, sometimes you need to act with a little reckless abandon. Your intern still has that young optimism. He thinks he can do everything better. Now, he's probably wrong. But the fact that he's willing to try and fail is what will propel your company forward.
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