For those of us who work in marketing and PR, summer can harken back to the era of summer internships. Maybe we were slaving away in New York for an alt-weekly newspaper. Maybe we were charged with the internship cliche of putting in and picking up the office coffee order. Maybe (scratch that—definitely) we were handed the tasks that no one in the office wanted to do.

Sometimes on that list of Things No One Else In the Office Wants to Handle is this item:  managing the brand’s social media pages.

Which, to be completely honest, is absurd.

These days, it is imperative to have strategic professionals charged with managing your brand’s social channels. And yet it’s something we hear from potential clients regularly: “We definitely need PR, but we have our intern/youngest employee/a recent college grad handling our Facebook.”

Really?

Sure, kids these days know more about social media than other generations. It’s a generation who have lived their lives online. But posting to your personal Instagram page is quite a departure from building a social media strategy and handling the tone, content, community management standards, and crisis messaging for a brand’s social media channels. To equalize the two scenarios is unfair, and that attitude will ultimately hurt your brand.

If you’re a social media professional, you’ve heard something along these lines before. And that’s why you need to know how to explain your role and, after you win the business, continually prove ROI to the client. Make sure they know that your experience goes way beyond knowing which Insta filter most complements your skin tone (though, I mean, that is a good thing to know).

So if you’re sitting down with a brand who thinks it’s kosher to just put their youngest employee on Social Media Duty, you’ll need to bring a few things up.

    • Your process. Walking a potential client through your discovery and planning processes helps prove that you’re doing the legwork necessary to mount a successful campaign. You’re not just throwing photos up on social media willy-nilly. You’ve taken the time to learn about the brand’s pillars and will build content that ladders up to the core brand differentiators (and the brand’s goals).
    • Your experience. This is when you pull out the case studies that prove the impact you’ve had on other brands’ successes. It’s when you cite metrics about a brand’s uptick in sales as a direct result of your work.
    • Your commitment to measurement. Talk to them about the importance of measurement, your access to tools that will help you measure, and your knowledge of the context around what various metrics and data points mean. That knowledge is probably something that a summer intern can’t bring to the table.
    • Your experience dealing with crisis. Social media crises happen all the time. Sometimes they manifest as a post from a frustrated customer, and can be handled with a “we’re sorry!”-esque comment. Sometimes they’re accusations of food poisoning or legal malfeasance. Social media crises are nuanced and should be dealt with by an experienced social media practitioner—someone you trust wholly with your brand in their hands.

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