Social feeds: why the intern can't do it.

“Why can’t we just let an intern do it?”

It’s something I hear over and over again in regards to social media. And you know what? It’s a valid question.

Young people are active personally on social media. They certainly understand how to post things on the different networks, and can meet whatever expectation level you as a firm have for activity. The difference between an intern and a professional? It all comes down to one thing:

Engagement.

People often confuse activity for results when it comes to social media. Building an effective social media campaign is not just about posting a certain number of updates, or sending a few Tweets a week. It’s about arousing interest with the right audience for your product, and getting them to participate in that discussion.

Building an audience
The first step to anything in social is building an audience. Social isn’t about reaching the most people (another common misconception) — it’s about reaching the right people. If your page has 10,000 fans, but they aren’t interested in your product and don’t engage with what you post, what’s the point? In fact, it can have a negative effect: Facebook actively filters and obscures content that has low engagement relative to its potential audience. 

An effective social campaign stats with upfront research to identify not only who your audience is, but how to find them. Demographics vary widely network to network, and you must identify which networks are most likely to have your audience on them. You need to unearth the kinds of pages your audience is already interacting with, and develop similar content and hashtags that will work their way into people’s feeds organically. This behavior is accelerated though paid campaigns to place the right sponsored content into your audience’s feeds — generating their interest, and directing them to your page.

Content
Great. So you’ve captured a potential customer to your page. What next? Content is what keeps a user on your page, and keeps them coming back. Good content is a mix of original, informative posts and great, relevant content curated from across the Internet (and, ideally, from your audience!). A good social media professional has honed the art of identifying the right content (in terms of length, style, and subject) that is likely to generate engagement with your audience. Anyone can post something on social media — expertise is posting the content that strikes the perfect balance of being interesting to the audience while advancing your brand and moving them closer to a sale.

Organic
When people find content that improves some element of their life or stimulates them, they’re likely to engage with it and become evangelists for your brand. Both of these things increase your reach by displaying content to people who are not already in your audience. Engagement also improves the algorithmic rank of your page and content, making it more likely to be displayed to the existing audience.

Engagement goes beyond great content. My firm, for example, has built up a data bank of our posts which tell us what days and time of day are most likely to engage the right audience. Posting at 10AM or 10PM can be the difference of whether people see your message. We optimize this timing, along with the headline, picture and blurb in each post to maximize the likelihood of audience interaction.

Paid
Organic is the absolute best way to reach people on social media. Unfortunately, Facebook has pushed organic reach to under 4% (meaning if you have 100 fans of your page, less than 4 will actually see any given post). As other platforms build audiences to rival Facebook’s, they’ll likely follow suit to some degree. 

An effective paid campaign requires extensive testing and targeting. Paid campaigns should be targeted not only by demographic data, but also by behaviors that make a user more likely to convert to a customer. A good paid campaign begins with dozens of different permutations of creative, which are then refined to the ones that generate the most engagement in the first few hours of the campaign.

The differences between personal social and corporate social are extreme. An intern with a good personal social presence has never had to build a targeted audience, which is very different than just getting your friends to follow you. They haven’t run a paid campaign. And the engagement they receive (comments on a personal achievement, for example) are light years away from getting someone to comment on an informative article that promotes your brand.

Virtually any job in the office can be done by an intern. Anyone can dial a phone and speak to prospects. You could likely teach an intern to work in production or even accounting. But you engage professionals in all these areas because the result — growing your business — is too important to leave to someone who may or may not understand what they’re doing. Social is no different.