May 7th, 2009 by Lauren McKay

The New York Times had the scoop on a recent post for an internship with Pizza Hut.

COMPANY Pizza Hut Inc.

JOB TITLE Summer Twintern

JOB TITLE, TRANSLATED A summer intern who uses Twitter.

JOB CATEGORY Hot pizza/social media

SALARY Competitive (with other Twitterers)

JOB PURPOSE To attend advertising shoots, product meetings and other corporate events

As stated in a Pizza Hut news release: “The Twintern will do more than just keep followers posted on great deals and menu items from Pizza Hut. They’ll also keep a keen eye on pop culture news, off-the-wall stories or anything else quirky and fun that he or she thinks would be of interest to loyal Pizza Hut fans.”

Could Pizza Hut be scrambling for positive press in light of Domino’s social media fail last month? Better to be proactive rather than reactive, after all.

I’m not sure if Pizza coined the term “Twintern” but when searching the term, Pizza Hut is connected with all the initial hits. Could social media internships be the new hot thing for college kids? I know I would have jumped at the chance to Tweet on behalf of a company instead of making copies and answering phones like I did as an intern. But Pizza Hut advancing this gig has brought about some questioning:

Twitter, to-date, hasn’t been too popular with the college-age and teenage demographics. As Liana Evans, a writer for Search Engine Watch, points out, if Pizza Hut truly wanted to succeed in social media, the company would go where their audience is — which likely isn’t Twitter. “Rather than having their PR Company get spin out of their foray into social media with this “Twittern” announcement, they would have done the research to see that reaching a college student audience wouldn’t be accomplished utilizing Twitter. College age students have yet to truly appreciate Twitter.”

An article posted on CNB.com states that the Twintern news indicates two things about corporate America’s understanding of Twitter:

1. Corporate America has a sense that they should be on Twitter — and hey, it’s free — but they really have no idea what it’s about.

2. Companies like Pizza Hut assume that since Twitter’s all over the news and that because people like Oprah and Ashton Kutcher tweet, college kids must be into it, too.

Some bloggers on the subject seem to think that Pizza Hut should have been on Twitter long ago and that yeah, this Twintern idea has legs. The only thing that trips me up is the fact that a summer intern is with a company typically for 10-12 weeks, which is not enough time to fully get the culture of a big company like Pizza Hut. A Twintern might tweet about she thinks she should be tweeting about. But isn’t the beauty of Twitter about having personality and being transparent? Part of me doubts the value that this Twintern will provide.

I think I’d much rather read tweets coming from a Pizza Hut delivery boy — authenticity rules.

Thanks for the article on our Twinternship; always nice to see the debate continued. I want to reiterate the fact that this announcement was in no way a response to recent competitor events – I can see why you might question the timing, but this was a program we had in place for weeks prior. Also, the Twintern will not be solely responsible for handling our social media activities. He/she will simply be our Twitter “persona,” if you will, tweeting from a young person’s perspective on what it’s like to intern at Pizza Hut. We considered going several different directions with this, but in the end we decided to go the Twintern route because we wanted someone who could dedicate 100% of their time to social media, and we thought it was something fun and different that not a lot of companies out there are doing. And the position has generated a lot of enthusiastic responses, with more than 1,000 college students submitting applications for the position.

Our ideal scenario is that this Twinternship will extend beyond the 10 – 12 weeks and turn into a full-time position. We believe in the value that young people can bring to our company, and we wanted a fresh voice who is also passionate about new and emerging technologies to spearhead the initiative. We appreciate your feedback, and know we are committed to the social media space as a company on a broader scale.

Finally, your idea about hearing from our delivery team members is interesting. We’ll take it into consideration as we continue to embrace and participate in the social media landscape.

Chris, Temporary Pizza Hut Tweeter

Comment by Chris Fuller — — May 8, 2009 @ 6:52 pm

Thanks for your comment, Chris. It’s always great to see that companies are listening.

And thank you for providing more insight on the Twintern position. I can’t wait to see what comes out of it. Will the internship evolve into a social media manager-type role?

It will be interesting to see if other pizza companies follow Pizza Hut’s lead.

Comment by Lauren McKay — — May 13, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

FYI – pizza companies aren’t the only companies. We are a strategic marketing firm and are hiring a twintern as well.

Comment by Mark Horoszowski — — June 10, 2009 @ 2:52 pm

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