how to go from social media intern to social media strategist

I started in my current position as – guess what – an intern. And guess what one of my first big responsibilities was? That’s right, setting up social media profiles.

We didn’t have any presence on social media sites. We were doing podcasts and I believe we were blogging. But that’s about it.

Fast forward three years and now I’m a full-time employee, still in charge of the social media sites. I have a ton of things I’d like to do over if given the chance and I hope this list helps someone who recently became an intern, in charge of social media, and has no idea what to do.

1. Document everything. I was setting up profiles and grabbing usernames before a squatter could come and get it. I was thrilled when the content I was posting lead to our numbers growing. But I didn’t know who our frequent users were. I didn’t know how many retweets we would get a month. I didn’t know how many people clicked on our links. I didn’t know if I was spending my time efficiently. Now I know better and I’m trying to work from an actual social media plan. Most interns just go in and start doing things blindly, when the higher ups want numbers. They want facts.

2. Make sense of what you’re documenting. If I went to the CEO and said, “Hey, we got 50 retweets this week,” that would mean absolutely nothing to him. Nothing. Nada.What it really means is that people are spreading our information to their networks, meaning what we do has value to people. Make sense of the numbers in a way that the boss cares about. You can’t just say, “Hey, this is a cool thing that’s happening on our Facebook page,” even if that’s all you have to go on. Shine some light on who your followers are. Do they have lots of friends or followers? Is it clear from their profiles that they have shared interests with your organization? Let them know if you have some influential people following you.

3. Keep them in the loop. Send your boss the best comment of the day, or best comment of the week if they’re not coming that frequently. Show spikes in traffic or number of followers or number of comments. They need to know why what you’re doing has value.

4. Keep learning. Read Mashable. Read SocialMediaExaminer.com. One of my favorite tips is to read the official blogs of sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. They often have great tips or a heads-up on new features you’ll want to use. At a staff meeting, you can casually mention that Twitter has new features months before the rest of your department hears about it.

5. Set up a schedule. You need to set up a social media dashboard, so you can monitor several sites at once. You can do this using an iGoogle web page, and add widgets for your Twitter feed, your YouTube comments, etc. This will save you time down the road. Decide when you’re going to check your dashboard, because it is all too easy for you to spend all day checking for new comments and interaction.

What advice do you have for interns who are trying to run a successful social media campaign without much experience?

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2 thoughts on “how to go from social media intern to social media strategist

  1. writebite says:

    Taking an Internet Writing class right now, and we were talking about a few of these things. Social media, or rather the tools of SM, change so much that you have to constantly have your pulse on what’s going on in it, and it could be so easy to get lost in it all. Setting up a schedule is a great idea. And the “Keep learning” is a biggie.

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