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The Rise of the Social Media Intern

Demand for Social Media skills amongst start-up and small businesses is soaring. We’ve noticed on the FreelanceStudents jobs board that more and more opportunities are being posted! Yet, it seems that students have not yet woken up to this growing opportunity despite the fact that many are already equipped with these skills. Perhaps because a [...]

Demand for Social Media skills amongst start-up and small businesses is soaring. We’ve noticed on the FreelanceStudents jobs board that more and more opportunities are being posted! Yet, it seems that students have not yet woken up to this growing opportunity despite the fact that many are already equipped with these skills. Perhaps because a bit like ‘terrorist’, or ‘love’, ‘Social Media’ is one of those terms which seems to be banded around from hither to thither without anyone being exactly sure where it came from, what it does, or what it really means. We break it down and we strongly advise you to take note.

What is Social Media?

Businesses are increasingly seeing Social Media as an important marketing channel that requires development and ongoing monitoring. But, what does the term actually encompass. The short answer is absolutely loads of stuff. Basically, Social Media can (and does) refer to any media used for social interaction. But of course! But what?

Usually in reference to online interaction, Social Media can be in the form of text, pictures, audio, and video. It can include social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter, YouTube, radio podcasts, posted content on blogs, news aggregators like Digg, and has many more guises. Fancy interactive newspaper coverage of the World Cup on the Guardian? Social Media. Gmail chat? Social Media. Wikipedia? You guessed it, Social Media.

For a humorous take on Social Media, go here. For a detailed and informative introduction to what it actually entails, go here.

Why do companies want Social Media interns?

Ah, now to the juicy stuff. It’s not all Facebook stalking your ex and telling people you’re off to buy fags and bog roll – far from it. Indeed, businesses see the effective use of Social Media as an increasingly indispensable way of disseminating information and communicating with targeted sections of the public. Social Media is all about sharing information. So, those 1000 friends on Facebook and banal Twitter updates sent every 30 seconds from your Blackberry suddenly become a very saleable asset in the jobs market. In the advertising, PR and marketing worlds, harnessing Social Media has become such big fry that entire ‘Social Media’ companies have sprung up to provide freelance tools to businesses. In tandem with slightly more technical skills like search engine optimization, such companies can do anything from widening a business’ advertising scope online to bringing in hit after hit to a good start-up website. To be blunt, stay up to date and proactive with Social Media and companies will want you. It also works both ways – being a Social Media intern can be a good way to build contacts, plug your blog or website, and continue building the kind of skills required for a 21st century workforce.

What will you be doing?

Given the scope of Social Media, as noted above, it’s impossible to pigeon-hole the tasks as it will depend on each individual company strategy. However, broadly speaking Social Media interns are likely to be creating, researching and analyzing. This might be creating a blog for your company, researching the number of hits it gets and then analyzing the results. It could be building RSS feeds or retooling websites to attract Google’s indexing interest (so it appears higher on searches). It could even involve shooting, editing and appearing in promotional videos. For a good overview of potential tasks, see here.

Final thoughts

The landscape of today’s student jobs market is shifting, and the shift favours individuals who are savvy in social media. Even top business schools are getting in on the act! Check out the FreelanceStudents job board now for our live Social Media positions for students and recent graduates – look out for terms such as ‘Digital’, ‘Online’, ‘Marketing’ or ‘Blog/Blogger’.

What do you think of Social Media internships? Would you consider applying for a Social Media role?

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