Why Social Media Internships Should Never Be Unpaid

I came across this Mashable article and found it so true and relatable seeing that I am at the stage of my life where I need to start looking and applying for internships in the media industry.

Interns are often hired to run social media for small companies that can’t afford a full-time social media manager. Employers assume the job is simple and they have the skills to handle it because they regularly use social media in their personal lives.

However, social media internships, because of the nature of the work involved and skills required, should never be unpaid. Here are a few of the responsibilities of a social media intern:

Full Control Over Web Presence
Social media interns are often put in charge of a company’s Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. Many have full control over what they say, when they say it and who they say it to. In smaller companies, they are often their own department, and in many cases, there’s no one mentoring these interns. If that’s the case, it can hardly be considered an internship at all. Lack of mentoring makes it more like a summer job, which should definitely be paid.

Direct Interaction With Current And Potential Clients, Customers and Users
When you’re monitoring all interactions on social media, you have to create conversations with people. This means generating publicity and responding to customer service messages. Both of these responsibilities require interns to have a wide range of skills. Direct interaction with clients is a real responsibility that should result in real compensation.

Build Relationships With Other Businesses And The Media
Many interns have had very limited experience with media relations — it’s why they applied for an internship in the first place. Sending a social media intern into the deep end on their own is unhelpful and unfair. It’s important for interns to get hands-on experience, especially in media relations, so be their guide. Once they get the hang of it, their role in building valuable relationships should not go unpaid.

Work With Various Departments Of The Company
A company’s social media should embody the entire organization. This means, to a degree, it should have input from many departments in the company. You need to work with marketing, customer relations, public relations, internal communications and more. One person should not have to be a liaison to all of these departments, in addition to creating content, and not be paid.

Brand Management (Even In Times Of Crisis)
Another important goal of a company’s social media is to represent the brand. This means consistent messages across all platforms, as well as sharing relevant, quality content. When something bad happens, whether it’s directly in the company, industry, or somewhere else in the world, it often has to be acknowledged on social media. Brand management requires a lot of time and dedication, and the person who does it should be paid. The stress involved is enough to earn the compensation.

Social Media Is 24/7
Things are happening on Twitter and Facebook all day, every day. Interactions never halt and new messages are always being shared. It’s a big job to be on red-alert all the time. If you don’t pay your social media interns, they won’t feel obligated to make your company part of the 24-hour news cycle. Your social media presence might not be as strong as it could be if your interns were paid to manage it.

The responsibilities of a social media intern will vary depending on the type and size of the company. In a large company, there are plenty of people to lend a hand and plenty to mentor interns, but in a small company, there just aren’t enough. No matter the size of the company, social media interns have plenty of responsibilities to worry about and should be paid to do them.

Do you pay your social media interns? Why or why not?

By Heather R. Huhman
(28 July 2013)

Source: http://mashable.com/2013/07/28/social-media-internships/