Twitter and the Phenomenon of “The Intern Who Tweeted This”

Valerie Hoke
July 20, 2017

We’ve all seen a high-profile Twitter account, whether associated with a brand or an individual, post something a little risky that makes you raise an eyebrow.

Maybe you were impressed by their knowledge of a meme’s existence and their ability to capitalize on it, or maybe you were embarrassed by their cringeworthy attempt to do so. Maybe you were just blown away by the tone-deafness exemplified in one measly little tweet.

Either way, when these posts start gaining traction, there’s almost always one particular type of response within the first few replies: It’s a response called the intern who tweeted this.

At the core of these replies is the suggestion that all Twitter accounts, even the ones that represent the most high profile, highly scrutinized people and brands on the planet, are simply run by interns.

I have many, many bones to pick with this belief, and they all come down to the same sentiment: Do you really think social media is that much of a throwaway task?

Let’s start with a tweet that needs no introduction: “Delete your account.”

You guys. Do you really think some intern fired off that tweet in Hillary Clinton’s name, just because they thought it’d be funny, without strategic discussions and six different levels of approvals?

No. I guarantee people went back and forth about whether or not that tweet was a good idea. Someone had to sign off on it. There was probably a v dramatic moment where someone narrowed their eyes and hissed, “DO IT.”

You wouldn’t doubt that every television ad run by Hillary Clinton’s campaign went through immense amounts of strategic planning in order to decide on the content and messaging.

So why wouldn’t her campaign’s social media posts, which reach just as many people at a much faster pace, go through a similar approval process? Why wouldn’t her social media team (which, yes, is a whole team) put endless time, thought and energy into strategic planning, just like her political consultants and strategists?

I’m using Hillary as an example here because it’s hard to get more high profile than a literal presidential candidate. (And we sure know there’s no strategy behind the other guy’s tweets.) But the same goes for sports teams…

Major brands…

And even government agencies.

Do y’all really think the DoD lets interns tweet whatever they want?

The point here is that no major social media account is treated so lightly that it rests in the hands of an intern with zero oversight. That shit has a process. (Trust it, btw.)

The days of social media being a frivolous task handed off to interns are long gone. Social media teams are integral parts of marketing departments, and social media itself is a career track that barely existed 10 years ago. (Sure, social media interns still exist, but they usually operate under the guidance of a supervisor who’s been at it for years.)

To imply that the strategic work of a social media director is equivalent to an intern’s busywork is an insult to professionals across the field. It’s also an insult to smart and hardworking interns (like our Junior Blasters) who deserve credit for much more than just aimlessly firing off lolz-y content to the masses with zero rhyme or reason.

In general, social media professionals are pretty goofy people who don’t take themselves too seriously—our own CBM accounts are probably more than enough evidence of that. However, we take our work seriously, and we’re tired of telling people what we do for a living only to be asked, “Oh, so you just tweet all day?”


We go to great lengths to do good work. Sometimes, yeah, we take some risks that don’t always please everyone. But it doesn’t mean that social media is just some frivolous game where an attitude of ‾_(ツ)_/‾ prevails over thoughtfulness.

Look, if “the intern who tweeted this” is just a phrase used as a joke at this point in its internet tenure, then fine. I love a good stupid joke.

But let’s just give people credit where credit is due, okay?