When Social Gets Serious

Social media is more than just a tweet here and a Facebook post there; it’s become an essential part of your institution’s brand. If this is so, why do so many turn the reins over to inexperienced interns?


Writing for Creditunions.com I have made a lot of phone calls to a lot of credit unions. Often I’m calling to ask about a successful product, service, or community outreach program, and never once have I been directed to speak with an intern. When the press calls you want your best person on the job, no?

Interns bring value to any institution, but of the entire staff, interns are likely the youngest, least experienced, and most in need of mentoring. You don’t let your interns talk to the trade-press, so why do so many institutions give interns the important task of managing social media?

I understand the logic: interns are typically young and active on social media, so let them run the feed. Social media is a relatively new expense and some smaller credit unions may not be able to afford a full-time social media manager, however it is incorrect to assume the job is simple. A shoddy Twitter feed might not just be a missed opportunity, it can also have a negative effect on your credit union.

In an article on Mashable Business, writer Heather Huhman argues social media interns should be paid for their contribution to companies. By a lot of the same reasoning, I further that argument to say social media should not be left to an intern, especially when many will only be with the institution for a few months at a time.

Social media manager is not a simple roll, and here is Huhman’s reasoning why:

·         Social media interns wield almost full control of the credit union’s web presence. There is often no one mentoring these interns and they have free reign to tweet, post, and pin what they want, when they want, and to whomever they want.

·         Through social media, interns have direct interaction with current and potential members. The goal of an effective social media strategy is to create conversation, whether it’s with members, potential members, or with the media. The person in this role must have a wide variety of personal and professional skills as well as an extensive background with the institution in order to spark meaningful engagement and answer customer service-type questions.

·         The social media manager must work with all departments of the credit union. Your credit union’s social media presence isn’t limited to small business loans, member services, or community outreach; it is an outlet for all departments and represents the entirety of your organization. For that reason, you must have a person in the role who has a rapport with all departments and understands all workings of the credit union.

·         Social media is brand management. For many members, social media is the day-to-day representation of your credit union. The social media manager must produce consistent messaging across all platforms and share relevant, quality content. Brand management requires a lot of time and dedication, Huhman says. If social media responsibilities bounce from intern to intern, consistency of voice and content will likely suffer.

“Social media is an integral part of your business that lasts much longer than a three-month period,” says Brooke Auxier, social media coordinator for Discovery Communications. “It is an ongoing communication with your viewers, customers, clients, patrons, etc. and should be approached with professionalism and knowledge.”

Auxier works specifically on two networks at Discovery; TLC and Discovery Fit & Health.

“Being knowledgeable and connected to the entire company and brand is an absolute must when managing social media accounts and conversations,” she says.


Aug. 1, 2013


  • As a long-time member of the CU community and VP of Interactive Media at a CU, I can honestly say I don't know any CU that lets interns run their social media program.