Don’t Live Through Your Own Marc Jacobs Twitter-Intern-Fiasco

29 Mar

So, Marc Jacobs, beloved clothing apparel retailed is doing damage control for a little Twitter-Intern-Fiasco. Some genius within the Jacobs organization broke the cardinal rule of social media management: Thou Shall Not Hand Over Twitter to Intern.

What this person didn’t realize or rather care to realize is this intern was not a big Twitter fan or user. In fact, said intern didn’t want any thing to do with the official Marc Jacobs Twitter account stream and used the platform as an opportunity to bite the hand that feeds (or maybe not) them. So, there are so many things wrong in this situation.

I can only cover a few here so this is what I’ve got to say about how to successfully manage company social media.

Rule #1: Don’t be an idiot and hand over the social media brand account to an inexperienced intern

I continue running into poor, misguided souls that have basically watched too many 20/20 reports on Gen Y and now believes that every person under 25 texts more than talks, and manages social media from their mobile device. Perhaps that’s true in your case, but do you know if they would enjoy doing that for a brand? Have you considered what is also apparent among Gen Yers — they may be experienced users of social media networks, but have no clue about successfully leveraging social media to achieve specific business goals.

Now, may be you are one of the lucky ones. You’ve found that rare, diamond in the rough. That clearly understands social media beyond posting messages that should be removed by Texts From Last Night. Great. Now see Rule #2.

Rule #2: Don’t leave the inexperienced intern to create messages without supervision and approval

This seems like a no-brainer, but clearly needs to be said. If you really want to test your interns social media chops — and provide them a learning opportunity, a novel idea — assign them the task of writing out Twitter and Facebook messages, links included for a week or month at a time. Perhaps your social media strategy doesn’t include a specified (minimum) number of messages you want to go out everyday (hint, hint, it should). Plus, what we know about Facebook‘s algorithms is that more messages with video and picture links appear more often in user’s newsfeeds more frequently. Does your intern know that? If not, this is where the training begins. Additionally, by tasking this person with the responsiblity of writing messages that are submitted for prior approval says someone is reviewing what they are posting on behalf of the company. Now, if you’re not watching — like Marc Jacobs — but care, then you’re sending mixed messages. If you aren’t watching and don’t care then don’t raise hell when you don’t get the kind of messages or engagement that you originally imagined. And unlike fetching coffee or making copies, this is a learning activity that counts and is meaningful.

Rule #3: Free social media should still cost you

I’m sure you’ve heard this before too, but Social media is free — the human resource to do it is not. In my opinion, the biggest mistake any company can make is to hand over their official brand accounts to a professionally inexperienced person. I mean let’s be honest, would you want the pharmacist or the lab tech filling your vital life saving prescriptions? If your answer to this question is the pharmacist because they have gone to school longer, have a certification, passed medical training and the like, the same rules apply. The intern in this situation is the tech, and they are likely not professionally or intellectually ready to manage your brand voice independently.


Posted by on March 29, 2011 in business, communication, social media


Tags: , , , , ,

2 responses to “Don’t Live Through Your Own Marc Jacobs Twitter-Intern-Fiasco

  1. Jacob Stoops

    March 29, 2011 at 8:54 am

    A big brand having such little respect for Twitter as a medium is not surprising to me. I mean why wouldn’t a well-respected brand let an intern play around with their Twitter account. Hey, it’s only brand awareness and trust that could be lost. No big deal, right?

    • Erika Pryor

      March 29, 2011 at 8:59 am

      Unfortunately, it’s not surprising that Marc Jacobs has so little respect for Twitter. It just seems like giving the responsibility to anybody other than a slightly disgruntled intern would have been a better decision. I mean let’s be honest, an intern is typically the last person tasked with substantial work. I think it’s also a testament to the ways in which intern labor is being abused in the current economic climate. Many businesses don’t realize that interns, like independent contractors are not supposed to be contributing to major business operations. I wonder what’s next to happen in social media land.


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