Whether outside agencies or social media interns should be responsible for corporate tweeting and Facebook updating is in the news again. Recent problems faced by Chrysler and a (now former) tweeter at a (now former) social media agency and a social media intern tweeting for Marc Jacobs both reflect situations where young, conceivably social media-savvy individuals, took a real “walk off the ranch” – as a senior executive I knew would have put it.  In the Chrysler case, it was using the F-bomb and impugning Detroit drivers. For the Marc Jacobs social media intern, it was a mini-rant blistering the CEO.

These cases re-raise the issue of what’s really important when deciding who will create and send social media status updates for an organization?

Even if you believe youth is closely aligned with preparedness in using social media, there’s much more required to be successful. Possessing a fair degree of emotional intelligence is obviously just one other critical factor.

Importantly, it’s also essential for your corporate tweeter to be a strong representative for the brand OFFline before trying to be one online. That requirement alone would suggest, “Let the intern do it,” probably isn’t the right answer when deciding who should handle corporate social media accounts.

While there are plenty of tests online for emotional intelligence, what can you do to check for the right degree of brand advocacy skills? How about a test for the offline brand attributes a corporate tweeter needs as well?

Here’s my suggestion for an “Is Your Corporate Tweeter Ready?” test.

Using a scale where 3 is “Completely trust them,” 2 is “Somewhat trust them,” and 1 is “OMG! I’d never trust them to do that!” ask yourself if you’d depend on the person you’re having (or considering having) do your corporate tweeting to:

  • Actively participate in a sales call on your largest customer or customer group?
  • Review your brand standards document not only for typos but for real strategic brand errors?
  • Speak about your brand and what it represents to a large group of employees?
  • Work a customer service shift unsupervised?
  • Credibly summarize your business, what you do, and discuss its size, scope, and prospects with a group of potential investors?
  • Have a conversation with a competitor without disclosing any proprietary or otherwise competitively damaging information about your company?
  • Be interviewed by a national (or even local) TV reporter who is doing an unfavorable profile about your company?

Total up the score. How did your corporate tweeter do?

Here’s my recommendation for evaluating the scores:

  • 18 – 21: You have a strong candidate to be handling social media updates for your organization.
  • 13 – 17: This person has real potential for social media success, but there are some fundamental brand-related areas which need development.
  • 12 or under: Maybe this person’s a blogger where you have time to edit and make sure they’re aligned with your brand, but don’t put them behind a Twitter or Facebook account….EVER!

What do you think? Are these the right situations and scoring?

And do you have the right person tweeting for you? Mike Brown


The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at [email protected] or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours…even though we won’t tweet for you.

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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13 Responses to “Is Your Social Media Intern Ready for Corporate Tweeting – 7 Questions to Find Out”

  1. Jim Joseph says:

    Very timely and really practical advice, Mike. Love the scoring system. I know that this is something that all brands are struggling with – giving up a little control and putting your “voice” out there. There is a risk for sure, but with proper employee recruitment and training and a good sense of “brand”, it should be good. Great post.

    • Anonymous says:

      Proper recruiting is key Jim. Chris Brogan talks about finding social media communicators in the customer service area of the business. That makes a lot of sense since they have to be prepared to handle a whole variety of IRL interactions with knowledge and composure.

      I’m also a believer that an outside person could represent a brand via social media, but they must have a strong brand understanding. If it’s a superficial level of knowledge, it just won’t turn out well.

  2. Alex says:

    Excellent, Smithers.

  3. Awesome advice Mike, this is such an important topic for corporations. It’s amazing to me how many people do corporate tweeting who would score less than 12 on your test.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for your perspective Sheree! It’s an interesting phenomenon when social media is viewed as so off to the side that it’s okay to give someone who doesn’t understand the business the opportunity to broadcast their perspective on the brand. The alternative of making them tweet the company line on things is safe, but tremendously boring.

  4. Jack Brumm says:

    Great post. Thanks!


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