Anyone want to tell Michael Setzer and Kristy Hammonds that Pizza Hut is hiring? No? Just a thought…
On Friday, Pizza Hut announced its opening for a “twintern”…That is, an intern who uses Twitter and other online networking tools to “be our social media journalist, chronicling in 140 characters or less what’s going on at Pizza Hut,” the company’s VP for marketing communications told The New York Times.
It looks like Pizza Hut is taking a cue from companies like Wells Fargo, PepsiCo, Coca Cola and Ford, all of whom now employ full-time social media marketers for the purpose of interacting with consumers on the company’s behalf via Facebook and Twitter.
(Although I wonder if Pizza Hut’s timing had less to do with the growing popularity of social media-specific roles and slightly more to do with learning from its biggest rival’s recent PR/social media crisis.)
After hearing about the newly created position, I found myself following the Twitter exchange between @Mediabistro and @DanielthePoet, regarding the implications of hiring an intern for social media needs.
After @Mediabistro initially tweeted about Pizza Hut’s move, calling it “a great idea,” @DanielthePoet countered that companies willing to “turn over their online reputation to a college intern” will “get what they pay for.”
@DanielthePoet brought up the risk that the chosen intern could harm the brand should he/she misspeak by, say, “prematurely answering a question ignorantly or sharing an unsanctioned opinion.” (But isn’t that always the risk with social media – regardless of who is behind the helm?)
And in contrast to @DanielthePoet’s other concern that turning over a position more commonly handled by PR and social media marketing professionals shows a lack of respect for the medium and the audience, @Mediabistro made the point that, rather, giving interns this type of responsibility is simply a sign of the times: “The days of picking up coffee are done. Now they’re [interns] bringing people up to speed on using social media.”
Although @DanielthePoet’s concerns are valid (mostly for companies who aren’t ready to embrace social media), I have to agree that Pizza Hut is making a smart move by bringing in someone with “native competency” (as @Mediabistro put it) of social media. Pizza Hut will learn about using social media from those who are most familiar with it, and those interns will have the opportunity to build the business marketing acumen they still need to put those skills to use.
I have a feeling we’ll see more advertisements for twinterns (although, hopefully someone will come up with a better term than twintern…) as companies move further along with social media to market their brands, while still utilizing internships to recruit and train future employees. Thoughts?Related
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