How to recruit a summer intern to boost your social media presence

For most doctors, trying to keep up with practice marketing and social media on top of seeing patients and running a business is a daunting task. Sure, you could pass off these responsibilities to your front office staff, but they’re busy, too. That’s where some extra help can come in handy. Have you considered hiring a summer intern to help with your practice’s social media and marketing? If you plan properly, your intern can schedule out social media posts for the next six months (or longer!) to keep your practice on top of its marketing messaging for months to come.

Younger patients, health, and social media

Many college students will be home for the summer and looking for opportunities to gain job experience and build their resumes. Your practice can benefit from this by hiring a summer intern to focus on social media and marketing. Too many practices don’t participate in or prioritize social media, due to lack of time or knowledge. But they are missing out on a huge opportunity to attract and engage patients.

Because so many young patients use and trust social media, a savvy college intern may be the perfect person to boost your practice’s efforts in this area.

We know that more and more patients are looking to the internet and social media for health information—especially younger patients. This includes millennials, who at 80 million strong are the largest generation. Born between 1981 and 1996, they range from ages 23 to 38 in 2019. Anyone born from 1997 on is considered part of Generation Z, the oldest of whom are currently 22. According to statistics compiled by ReferralMD:

  • 18- to 24-year-olds are more than two times as likely than 45- to 54-year-olds to use social media for health-related discussions.
  • 90 percent of survey respondents age 18 to 24 said they would trust medical information shared by others on their social media networks.
  • 60 percent of social media users are the most likely to trust social media posts and activity by doctors over any other group.
  • 41 percent of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility.
41 percent of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility. Click To Tweet

A social-media savvy millennial or Generation Z intern is the perfect person to spearhead your online efforts. First, if your practice doesn’t already use a social media scheduling tool, have your intern sign up for one, such as Buffer or Hootsuite. You can start with a free version and decide if you want to upgrade. Create a marketing email address for the user credentials, so you’ll be able to pass the responsibilities on to another person in the future.

Next, have your intern brainstorm at least 25 topics for social media posts with the goal of posting at least once or twice a week. Tip: Rendia sends our customers the quarterly Hive newsletter, which highlights upcoming health observance days and months along with relevant videos to share in your social posts to keep your patients informed. And Rendia videos promoting your treatments are a great foundation for social posts.

Other tasks your intern can do may include:

  • Writing, editing, and proofreading copy for various digital marketing initiatives, including your website, blog, and email newsletters
  • Maintaining content calendars
  • Scheduling social media updates through your social media scheduling tool
  • Doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) keyword research and recommending improvements
  • Creating paid ads on Facebook to reach new patients in specific demographics: targeted by age, geographic area, certain health concerns, etc.
  • Observing the digital marketing practices of other organizations to help create best practices
  • Updating your website with new photos and videos
  • Reviewing all patient materials to ensure everything is consistent, clear and written at the appropriate health literacy level
  • Recording an updated phone message for patients waiting on hold
  • Testing your practice website to ensure that navigation is clear, text is free of grammatical errors, and links are functional

To pay or not to pay?

Recruiting a summer intern is preferable to hiring a part-time or temporary employee because it’s a way to test-drive new talent with a built-in “expiration date,” explains software company CEO Mike Kappel in Entrepreneur. It can also be less costly.

If your intern is doing great work and looking for an ongoing position, hire them. “But, if your intern slacks off or isn’t needed at your business, you’re not obligated to keep them,” wrote Kappel. “Try hiring an employee, taking their productivity for a test drive and then firing them. It’s a lot harder to do.”

Of course, another advantage to hiring interns versus employees is that you generally don’t have to pay them as much, if anything. Intern pay varies by degree levels. In 2018, the average hourly wage earned by interns ranged from $14.47 for first-year associate degree students to $32.35 for those pursuing doctoral degrees, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Whether or not to pay interns is a tricky issue, but the bottom line is, if they are contributing to your revenue, they should be paid.

But do you have to pay interns at all? This is a question without an easy answer. “There are moral, legal, and ethical” issues surrounding this decision, according to job search site The Muse. The Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) specifies several criteria to determine whether someone is a “trainee” or an employee—the difference being that employees need to be paid at least minimum wage, explains the article. However, the criteria are up for interpretation, and the FLSA is rarely enforceable, say experts.

Here’s the bottom line: “If you can’t or don’t want to pay your interns, you have to provide skills and opportunities that clearly benefit them, and you can’t gain anything from their work,” states The Muse. As Lauren Berger, CEO of InternQueen.com and author of All Work, No Pay put it: “If the intern is contributing to your revenue, he or she needs to be paid.”

Many interns are willing to work in exchange for college credits. However, this is something the potential intern will need to determine by asking their school’s career center for permission. “Once the school tells the student that they are able to receive college credit for the internship, the student will bring in papers for the company to sign,” explains InternQueen.com. This may include a company summary, biweekly evaluations for the employer or student to fill out, and usually some sort of “end of internship” evaluation for the employer to sign.

If you’re hiring a social media summer intern, make sure to emphasize how the intern will gain valuable marketing skills. And enjoy the benefits of putting a concerted effort behind something that you may not have had the time or resources to dedicate to before.

How to find potential interns

So how do you go about finding a summer intern? Start by writing up a job description. For examples, search “summer intern,” “social media internship,” “healthcare marketing intern,” or similar phrases on job search sites such as Indeed.com and CareerBuilder.com. Your job posting should communicate the benefits of the internship to applicants. Make it clear that it’s a temporary position, whether or not it’s paid, whether it counts for college credit, and include a bulleted list of tasks the intern will perform, as suggested above.

Target your internship job posting by advertising on a college recruiting site such as Handshake.

As for where to post it, global job search sites like ZipRecruiter.com boast high success rates, but can be costly and may result in too many candidates to handle. You may be better off targeting college students through Handshake, a recruiting platform used by many colleges and universities across the country. Employers can create multi-school job postings for free. You could also post your summer internship opportunity in your local newspaper, community newsletter, or on hyper-local social networking sites like Nextdoor.

Without too much effort, you can spread the word to potential interns and find a great candidate to help you boost your practice’s social media and marketing efforts this summer.

Learn more about building a winning social media strategy and online brand. See how Rendia’s patient engagement tools can set you up for success.