Social Media Internships – a fad or a real value add?

Rajeev is a second year student who spends 8 hours in college, two in commuting and rest indoors. Oh wait, it could be said he spends 14 hours a day online on the networking sites (Yes, the smart phone is his God) and the rest sleeping. He wants to earn, network, learn, gain the ‘corporate’ experience and socialize, all at the same time.

He isn’t the only one. There are many like Rajeev who don’t want to be told what to do at all times and yet feel the pleasure and honour of ‘working’ without cutting on their quota of fun. Being the smart, a-step-ahead-always genius that he is, he found himself a Social Media internship. It lets him exhibit his communication skills, maximize his time on networking sites (and make it productive), plan strategies with talented colleagues from work, put his wit to use and adds a cool company name to associate to and flaunt in e-mail signature and resume.

So, what is a Social Media internship?

A Social Media internship is one where an intern manages the Social Media presence of the company consisting of presence on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, discussion forums etc. This requires a thorough understanding of how a company is placed in the market, its USP and the target audience.

Managing Social Media involves developing marketing strategies for these sites, research and building appropriate content, reaching out to the right audience and most importantly, getting the message across. Every company has a reason for prominent online presence that helps them decide which platform of social media they consider most crucial and path-breaking in advertising.

Nitika Malhotra, a final year student pursuing Public Relations & Advertising from a premiere media institute in India interned as a Social Media manager at Jaipur Rugs for six weeks. She says “My company catered only to people abroad but they did great CSR work in India. We felt a need to advertise the same as we had won several awards for our community service and wanted to be recognized as a brand in the country we operated in. I used to manage facebook page of the company for the same and amount of response we’d get on the moving stories we shared was exhilarating. Our content was anything but entertaining. My internship taught me that if communicated properly, anything can be sold. It was a great value addition to my understanding of marketing.

So, what is it that recruiters look for while employing a Social Media intern?

1. Ability to network- Oh yes! You need to be in the right place at the right time and make the most of it. You should be outgoing, friendly and gel well enough to build contacts and use them to company’s advantage as and when required. Strong interpersonal relations, ability to influence come handy. In a nutshell, learn PR, baby!

2. Communication- One needs to write and convey the message articulately. Be it information, a contest or a question, the message should be crafted in crisp, commendable language. Brevity, Clarity, Engaging, Continuity – mastered those terms yet?

3. Open to learning – Be unbiased and unrestricted in your approach towards content, thought process, technology and most importantly, the trends in use. Enthusiasm in learning new things and meeting different people is a cherry on the cake.

4. Passion for Social Media – Obviously. Why would a company hire you if you get bored on Facebook and Twitter or don’t understand how LinkedIn works? You should have the time to spare, the energy to stay online beyond your capacity when you have to. Managing people, editing comments and other response can get tedious beyond imagination at times.

5. What more? Active, impressive work at hand to offer example. A well-built blog, an awesome Facebook profile and judicious usage of Twitter count as good as your CVs.

Getting back to the ongoing debate- is an internship in Social Media actually beneficial to a student or is it just a fad that we will soon outgrow?
It is definitely beneficial. Apart from the regular networking and marketing skills, I get to experience a corporate culture – telephonic meetings, weekly reports, competition watch and creative writing. And there is delightful monetary gain, of course.” Says Abhinandhan who handles Social Media accounts for more than one company and has learnt his way on the Social Media.

Gliding on the same rail with a different perspective is Bastab. He says “Being a software major guy myself, I also make it a point to exercise my PR abilities at times. And now that am waiting to join my company as a software engineer and may never in future get the opportunity to work otherwise, I thought to take up this Social Media internship. In the long run, it will help me to present myself as a person with dedicated all round working capabilities.

With time, most Social Media internships are becoming paid internships in a range of Rs.2000 to Rs.7000 per month stipend depending on the kind of work you offer, the number of platforms you manage and the level of response you generate. And companies are willing to make this investment because they see tremendous value in it.

Social Media Marketing is here to stay. Capturing mind share (and hence wallet share) of a customer is a holy grail for companies all over the world and engaging with customers in a 2 way conversation instead of 1 way sales pitch is the new mantra. In addition ‘word of mouth’ is the best publicity and Social Media makes it SO easy to do both! And who better than the young interns to do this for you! They are smart, hooked on to social media, understand the nitty gritty, not afraid to experiment and bring loads of fresh ideas hitherto not thought” says Ankur, an IIT Bombay graduate turned entrepreneur.

Rasheed, founder of a youth e-zine hints the same. “Social Media is a wide world to tap as most of my audience is out there, spending more time on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube than ever before. If I am going to use these media to communicate and advertise, I save a lot of money and at the same time, I can experiment more. Taking interns for the same is more beneficial, simply because they know more about these media than I do. Someone who is 18 or 20 knows what he expects of a product/service meant for him and how would he prefer the company to keep in touch with him. The intern will keep the same in mind and work outs strategies.”

Of course, every good thing comes with a note of warning. A lot of interns tend to while away time in disguise of competition check, observing new trends or simply networking. One needs to tab the time and use it to suit self. General caution apart, we think Social Media internships are a great pathway to glory in terms of knowledge enhancement, the feel of a virtual work culture, meeting deadlines, framing reports and help in making a resume!

Do you agree?

Do you think you are cool enough to qualify as a Social Media intern? Let us hear it out in the comments!

The article has been written by Sonal Jain, herself a Social Media intern at Internshala.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>