We've all heard of businesses using college interns or part-time receptionists to manage their social media activity. Maybe you've done it, too. But does this strategy make sense?

Is asking your intern to set up social profiles a good tactic or a foolish move? How much effort should go into your online presence? What makes someone qualified to handle it?

To help answer these questions, here’s a look at the pros and cons of letting an amateur -- from an existing employee to a temporary intern to your teenage family member who's looking for a part-time job -- manage the face of your company online.

Reasons To Enlist the Help of Your Intern

Is there a case to be made for companies using interns or part-timers for social media help? For many businesses, the answer is yes. Here are some of the benefits that, for these brands, outweigh the costs.

  • Lower Costs: Saving money is probably the number one reason companies turn to part-time employees and interns for social media help. Typically young and inexperienced, these individuals won't expect hefty paychecks and are willing to work for low, or sometimes no, wages.
  • Social Media Experience: Most new professionals are already engaged on social media, regularly using sites like Facebook and Twitter every day. It stands to reason, therefore, that this new talent is the perfect talent to tap for your business social media needs. Who better than the people who know the networks?
  • Fresh Perspectives: Newbies have one big advantage over long-term marketing professionals -- they haven’t been trained to think like everyone else. Sometimes, hiring a green professional is the best way to get fresh ideas for your campaign.
  • Passion: Young professionals are often excited about social media and eager to learn.

Reasons Not To Go with an Amateur

While some companies rely on interns, others say doing so is a terrible idea. Interns lack experience and training, and, because of that, they’re prone to major missteps. Consider these drawbacks to using an amateur to run your social media campaign:

  • Little Social Media Business Experience: You know what they say, Experience is the best teacher. Without experience, people make common mistakes and miss obvious details.
  • Lack of Marketing Training: Amateurs usually lack basic training in marketing and strategy, so they won't know how to create a workable campaign for your brand. Without a plan, you're basically flying blind.
  • Lack of Company Training: Someone who's new to your company is usually not the best person to be representing it. Newbies lack understanding about your company's products, services, mission, etc. This can lead to miscommunications with your followers and build a negative image of your brand.
  • Weaker Than the Competition: When your competitors are hiring skilled and competent marketers and you're using an intern, you're working at a disadvantage.

Still Want to Use an Intern? Here's How

Bottom line, using an amateur to run your social media campaign is always a risk -- sometimes it can turn out well, but sometimes it can harm your brand. To help you manage your risks while working with newer employees, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Think Marketing Team: Just because you're using an intern doesn't mean you should only use an intern. Try pairing up new talent with a more experienced professional. This way, you gain the fresh perspective of new eyes, coupled with the stable wisdom of years in the business.
  • Provide Some Training: Educate your new hires on the ins and outs of your company so they're better equipped to represent you, whether they're working on your social media campaign or not. Over time, your temporary interns could grow into your most valuable full-time employees.

The Bottom Line

Back to the original question in the title of this post: Is poor social media activity better than none? If your options are using an intern for ho-hum results or not doing it at all, which is better? Here’s the bottom line:

A small amount of online activity is better than no activity, but bad social media activity is worse than none at all.

Whether you’re using an intern, marketing professionals, or a combination of the two, focus on quality over quantity and aim to communicate your brand’s voice and messaging consistently and clearly. If you’re going to work with amateurs, equip them with resources to do the job well.

Image by Cienpies Design (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: You may also be interested in reading @shortstacklab's article Social Media ROI: It Doesn't Matter (Really!)