It is true that your intern has been on Facebook longer than anyone else in your company, but that does not mean they have the experience or maturity to handle your social media.

Think about it, would you send your intern out to handle an angry customer face-to-face? Or, would you let an intern represent your company and be interviewed by the press during a company announcement or crisis? Do they really understand your company or industry well enough to build good relationships in an online community – something that Google will see forever?

Social media should be taken seriously and not handed over to just anyone, especially not a kid fresh out of school. Social media should be monitored around the clock by someone with experience and product knowledge.

That doesn’t mean that you need someone available to push out messages non stop about your company and products. It means that you need someone who can listen very carefully to the discussions that are happening online and who can respond quickly and effectively.

This may seem like an impossible task, but Google Alerts and Social Mention make the job much easier. Both are free alert services which provide daily emails of all online activity related to your brand that match your search topic.

If you think you can still sit out of the social media discussion, think again. The bloggers are already out there participating in online discussions 24/7 and they already might be talking about you! Are you prepared if someone says something bad about your company?

There may be some things you need to change about your customer service or product, and if that is the case, you should thank your online community for letting you know and then make the appropriate corrections. On the other hand, if you are already participating in social media and have a loyal following, those followers just might defend you and handle potential problems before they become toxic.

Let’s be realistic, you already don’t have control over what is said about you online. You might as well join in the discussion, influence the conversation, and at the very least, control how you react.

Make sure you assign the right person to represent you online who understands your organizational culture and can react appropriately.