Internet marketing is still relatively new. A vast majority of us practicing marketing didn’t learn about it in school—even me, and I’m not far removed from college. I’ve heard many marketers, referring to online marketing, say things like, “I don’t understand it. We’ll just hire an intern to do it.”
But is that really the best option?
College students may be learning about online marketing in their classes, but they likely don’t have the marketing and communications background needed to run effective online campaigns.
As marketers, we have to stay on top of the technologies used in our field. It’s changing more rapidly than ever, which is why it’s even more important to spend time learning. I do online marketing every day, yet I spend 15-30 minutes per day reading the latest Internet marketing news.
What’s different about you, as someone integral in your organization’s marketing, learning Internet marketing vs. having an intern do your digital marketing? Several things:
You have knowledge of your company and industry.
While you have an understanding of your company, your industry, your history, and marketing communications in general, your intern doesn’t. The person or people doing social media for your organization need to have a comprehensive understanding of your business and the industry to be truly effective.
Doing social media personally is much different than using it for marketing.
Yes, your intern has had a Facebook profile and Twitter account since high school. But the strategies—and even many of the mechanics—behind using social media for business are much different than using Facebook to communicate with friends and classmates.
Interns are short-lived.
Your intern will spend 10-40 hours per week with you, likely only for a semester or two. That’s just not enough time to gain a deep enough understanding of an organization to be the lead on its Internet marketing.
You get what you pay for.
Interns are usually paid hourly at or around minimum wage. They don’t get employee benefits like PTO or health insurance. Some are doing internships because they have to in order to graduate. Are you willing to put your brand in the hands of someone who fits this profile?
Would you trust an intern with a traditional marketing campaign?
Online marketing is just as influential as traditional marketing when it comes to communicating your brand. Would you let interns run free with and implement an entire print or TV campaign by themselves? No? Then why would you hand over your online marketing?
There are, of course, benefits to having an intern with knowledge about online marketing. I’ve never worked with an intern who hasn’t taught me something new. But be sure you’re leading them. Give them responsibilities with digital marketing, but don’t hand it all over.
If you understand the importance of Internet marketing to your marketing mix, invest in it. Here are 3 ways to do so, without relying on an intern:
1. Add Internet marketing to a team member’s responsibilities.
Find someone in your marketing department who has an understanding of the organization and industry, enjoys learning new things, and has a knack for using the Internet to communicate effectively. Officially add Internet marketing to his/her job description, with an incentive of course. Give that person time—during the workday—to learn what he/she needs to know to implement solid online marketing strategies. It takes time.
2. Hire someone with experience to join your team as an online marketing specialist.
If you’re ready to really invest in Internet marketing for your organization, hire someone dedicated to join your marketing team. A dedicated Internet marketing specialist will be able to spend time keeping up with the latest methods, and can integrate your online efforts with ongoing traditional efforts.
3. Outsource to an Internet marketing agency.
Agencies that specialize in online marketing have teams of people staying up-to-date on all things digital—website development, SEO, email marketing, social media, PPC advertising, and more. Good agencies will strategically match Internet marketing plans to your business and its goals.
Your online brand is not something to trust to just anybody. Think about the long-term before you throw on a short-term bandage.