Social media interns aren’t just constant reminders of how little you know about the independent music scene: They’re also excellent resources when it comes to marketing on Facebook. But without the proper strategy — for both managing your interns and your return on investment — you could be wasting all of that digital native know-how.

In hiring digital marketing interns over the past 20 years, I’ve discovered three cornerstones to creating a win-win relationship:

Establish a process: Develop specific, measurable steps that lead to specific, measurable results. Don’t just point the intern to a laptop and hope for the best. Instead, establish a process to achieve your social media goals. I recommend creating a 30-day editorial calendar for Facebook and other social media channels. You can assess and adjust it weekly, but knowing what you’re going to post — and when — is essential to thinking strategically about your social presence and helping your intern execute that strategy.

Know the vitals: Interns need goals, just like any other team member. So work with them on what my mentor, Success Magazine Publisher Darren Hardy, calls vital priorities, vital functions, and vital metrics.

Vital priorities include the three things you want the intern to accomplish during the internship. While you’re at it, list the three things the company will do to help the intern succeed during that time period, such as offering training on presentation skills or other related skill sets.

Vital functions are the three to six things your intern needs to do on a daily basis to contribute to the vital priorities.

And vital metrics reveal the intern’s progress. These should be easily measurable and quantifiable, such as tracking how many new followers were acquired each week.

Set review sessions: Each week, meet with your intern for 90 minutes to review vitals, goals, the previous week’s progress, and the 30-day editorial calendar. Once a month, review the vital priority the intern is pursuing so you can quantify the financial ROI of what’s been accomplished during the internship.

Measuring ROI

Too often, business leaders lie awake at night, stressing about their need to do a better job of capturing missed opportunities on Facebook. The problem is that most of the time, they haven’t even quantified those missed opportunities. Facebook — contrary to what some believe — isn’t the right platform for every business. So hiring a social media intern is a waste of time unless you know unequivocally that you can get a financial ROI for the time investment.

When it comes to measuring ROI for the internship, keep in mind that just as activity doesn’t necessarily equal results, Facebook likes don’t necessarily equal profits. I recommend measuring two primary indicators:

  • Traffic rate: How has your intern’s Facebook activity increased the number of unique visitors to your website, blog, or other destination being evaluated for monetary returns?
  • Conversion rate: How has your conversion rate increased or decreased over the duration of the internship? Ask your intern to help with this evaluation. It’s a great lesson in business ROI, which is the real point of social media marketing.

Start by looking at your overall conversion rate or email acquisition rate, and create a baseline. Then determine how many new Facebook likes the intern has acquired in the span of the internship. Give the intern a list of customers who bought your product, signed up for the newsletter, downloaded a PDF, or registered for your webinar (whatever result you’re going for). The intern can compare the list of customers to a list of recent Facebook followers.

If you treat your intern like a partner in achieving business goals, you’ll reap the benefits of an invested team member, and the intern will feel valued and educated. Look for opportunities to connect interns with subject matter experts who can share their knowledge. In return, interns can teach you more about the digital space they’ve lived in their entire lives and amp up your social media ROI. They might even recommend a band or two.

Stephen Woessner’s research on social media strategy was published in The Journal of E-Business, a peer-reviewed academic journal. His research on which pictures of his adorable daughter, Caitlyn, get the most likes on Facebook is ongoing. Woessner is a social networking and digital marketing expert, best-selling author, speaker, and educator. Learn more about Woessner’s patent-pending process for increasing site traffic at StephenWoessner.com.

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