Social Media as a Ground Floor – The Twintern

Last month I saw an article about the concept of a “Twintern” – basically an intern that sends relentless tweets about a major brand.

My first take, in tweet form:

“Twinterns” – Innovative use of social media, or exploiting tech geeks for fun and profit?

Lauren McKay over at CRM Magazine takes a nice look at the concept as it applies to a Twinternship (really?) with Pizza Hut. And while she jokes at the end that a pizza delivery guy would make for more authentic tweets – I do believe she makes a strong point.

Hiring some kid fresh out of college, with no real experience with your brand, but with social media savvy will not insure strong social media interactions. Lauren’s point on authenticity is very valid. I want to engage with someone who is engaged; not simply tweeting because they “have to” but tweeting because they are inside the guts of a brand and have compelling things to say.

Just like my post from the other day about that annoyingly spam-like twitter marketing program – simply having someone tweet for you is like having a movie star or mega athlete send their assistant to sign autographs at a mall appearance. The lack of authenticity is transparent, and the smart consumers out there will reject it.

While it is great that young people can leverage their ability to write in SMS speak in order to get a job in this economy, I think it is more important to consider the brand implications. After all, it is not that hard to get the hang of all this new fangled stuff. And making it someone’s job who does know your brand and your demographics to also learn these channels, makes more sense to me that hiring a fresh-faced kid to tweet at random.

2 thoughts on “Social Media as a Ground Floor – The Twintern

  1. I saw this article in the CRM magazine blog earlier today and commented over there, however, thought I’d leave my thoughts here as well: While I do appreciate your viewpoints and I enjoy reading the discussion the program has ignited in the blogosphere, I think that hiring a Twintern was the perfect route for us to go. I completely agree with your Twitter spam point – that is the exact reason we didn’t want someone from Pizza Hut marketing to control the account. Instead, we wanted to provide a real, authentic, fun voice, and we wanted to bring in a person who is excited to learn about new technologies and devote 100% of their time to interacting with our customers.

    As I noted in my comment on Lauren’s post, our ideal scenario is that this Twinternship will extend beyond the 10 – 12 weeks and turn into a full-time position; however, the Twintern will also be supported by our marketing team as a whole. We are serious about moving into the social media space, and the Twintern is not the only plan we have up our sleeve.

    -Chris, Temporary Pizza Hut Tweeter

  2. I was recently hired on as a Twintern for a small cutting edge agency in Ontario, They Integrated. The opportunity allows me to project the company and it’s culture outward via social networks.

    I agree that the person you hire to do this job should understand your company inside and out. I completed a four-month internship through College at They before I was offered a Twintern position, so I have a good understanding of the company culture and am able to portray that in a true manner. I care about the company and their values and think of my job as amazing opportunity for the firm to become known in the social media world as well as leverage myself with the knowledge and skills to support my future career.

    I think that if you spend the time teaching and embracing the intern in your company and have a student that is mature and serious about their position there will be no discrepancies in the way your company is projected. I feel that a student is a great choice for a Twintern in that we are so egare to learn and passionate about the industry and making a difference. We are tech savvy and know how to communicate on social networks because we do it all the time. We are also moldable; we can be shaped to the perfect fit for your company because we take what you teach us and we apply it. We want to work for you. The key word being ‘work’. As an intern, we want to learn as much as we can and we can’t accomplish that by playing all day. We know the difference between ‘tweeting’ for pleasure and ‘tweeting’ for work. I believe that a student is a great asset to a company and a company is great asset for a student, especially in todays economy with more jobs opening up in social media. You can be preparing a student to lead your company through social media. It is an exciting opportunity that I don’t think any small or large business should miss.

    Please feel free to take a look at the article we released regarding the decision to take on a Twintern as well as my job description and expectations:

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