Trusting the brand to the lowly ‘twintern’
Many corporate higher-ups are demonstrating a genuine concern for the level of discretionary decision making invested in todays corporate “twinterns” (Twitter/social media interns). The thing is, many companies such as Pizza Hut are now choosing to hire paid interns to focus on their social media endeavors. Great idea, in theory.
One of the most common myths surrounding social media is the idea that teens and college students, because of their inherent involvement in the social media realm, must be great agents for corporate social media management and counsel. True, an overwhelming majority of Americans between the ages of 17-23 are now not only engaged but completely consumed with social media. But even so, many of these Gen Y Social media “Gurus” only know social media from an individual perspective. They understand how to harness the power of social media for networking with friends, but not for improving brand recognition, employing marketing campaigns or generating social buzz around a companies product.
One London based home-furnishings retailer, “Habitat” ‘s twittering intern got in big trouble last month after he sent out misleading tweets that included commonly searched words related to the protests in Iran. He added keywords — called “hashtags” in Twitterspeak — such as Iran and Mousavi to messages so that people who searched for information about the protests would see his employer’s ads instead. His bosses were not pleased. “This was absolutely not authorised by Habitat,” a representative said in a statement. “We were shocked when we discovered what happened and are very sorry for the offence that was caused.” Habitat has since deleted the tweets and vowed to “do better for the Twitter community.”
For this very reason, many organizations have refrained from employing under experienced interns to handle their social media loose ends.
Even so, companies like Pizza Hut, who have entrusted single social media interns with entire twitter campaigns, have witnessed amazing success within just months of hiring their twinterns. Robinson, Pizza Hut’s first official “twintern”, spends much of the day on the free microblogging service Twitter sending out messages about special promotions, responding to customer complaints, and trolling Twitter for mentions of Pizza Hut.
Despite a lack of in-house experience — she worked for only one day in a Pizza Hut restaurant — Robinson seems to be doing a fine job thus far. She has increased Pizza Hut’s Twitter followers from 3,000 to more than 13,000 and successfully executed a sales promotion over the Fourth of July weekend. And despite having only been on the job for a month, she seems well-informed about the company offerings. In response to a customer inquiry, she tweeted on Tuesday: “Currently the Stuffed Pizza Rolls are only available with pepperoni. I’ll keep you posted if anything changes.”
But she might have added this caveat: if anything changes this summer. The twinternship ends come September, at which point the posting duties will presumably change hands once again.
So the Question is, do you think trusting a “twintern” with your brands social media endeavors could prove useful or fatal?
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