First, the back story. Lou Adler is an author, consultant and recruiter who provides hands-on advice for job-seekers, hiring managers and recruiters on how to find the best job and hire the best people. Lou is also one of the top influencers on LinkedIn with nearly 700,000 followers.
I have been following Lou’s posts for quite some time – I respect his sometimes controversial opinions and am even connected with him on LinkedIn.
However, I saw something from Lou last week that really stuck in my craw and is at the top of the list of my social media pet peeves. My top issue is with people and companies who think that anyone can do social media and who minimize the profession by not fully understanding the depth and breadth of expertise necessary to successfully create and implement social media and content management strategies.
Lou posted a job description for a Social Media Intern, aka All-Around Digital Marketing Maven on LinkedIn last week. The job description outlines the challenges of the position for a “savvy digital native”:
- get significant exposure for Lou’s posts, book and column
- manage the Facebook page and take it to the next level with increased engagement and better conversion
- create and launch marketing plans and mini-projects using social media and traditional PR
- exercise your creativity and develop your own PR and social media projects
I apologize in advance for the weak take-off of Paul Simon’s 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
Here’s the rub Lou. It’s all right to hire college interns to gain real life experiences and expertise, but your job post description is cheapening the social media profession by assuming an intern is going to be an all-around digital marketing maven and a savvy digital native and be able to achieve the results you desire. Just because someone has had a Facebook page since they were 13 doesn’t make them digitally savvy from a business standpoint. Not to mention, someone with minimal marketing and life experiences is not going to get you significant exposure, take your Facebook page to the next level and develop their own PR and social media projects. Interns also won’t have the strategic outlook to see the big picture and how various pieces of your business are inter-related. I’m ok with you trying to help a college student and get some marketing help at bargain-basement prices, but don’t diminish our profession with the expectation that you can get a high level of expertise at that price. Real social media expertise comes from years of experience in social media, marketing, content management, branding, customer service, technology, operations, analytics and project management. While there may be some success stories of interns being successful in corporate social media marketing, I have not run across any in my experience.
Call it like it is. I have always admired your posts for their honesty and bluntness, and for calling both employers and jobseekers on the carpet for not understanding that the hiring world has changed. Likewise, I trust you’ll respect the bluntness of this message from a social media expert. You wouldn’t hire an intern to handle one of your top recruiting gigs, so don’t think you should hire a short-term-focused intern to be the face of your personal and corporate brand on social media.
Too many companies do not really understand what it takes for someone to be successful in social media. I wrote a blog post with my ‘perfect’ social media job description for a project several years ago. When I went back to re-read it today, most of the thoughts I had in 2008 are still applicable today. While some of the social tools may have changed, the need for having deep experience and expertise in the multiple disciplines that come into play for successful social media marketing is still an important success factor.
Most (if not all) social media practitioners would also agree with my viewpoint. For example, I found a recent article on Inc.com from titled “11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media.” Hollis asks whether you really want to entrust your entire social media efforts to a recent college graduates who does not have the maturity, social etiquette, business understanding, communication skills and well-rounded expertise in marketing, customer service, public relations, crisis management and branding necessary to do the job properly. Obviously, I am in total agreement with Hollis.
Respect the profession. Lou, I just want you to have the proper respect for the social media and marketing profession and stop contributing to the myth that anyone with a social media account can do social media. I want you to successfully use social media and wish you the best in your latest search. Just remember this simple thought…social media is not kid’s play!