Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Five Tools for Your Social Media Intern

Via Unpaid Intern
Summertime... and the interns are easy... Well, not really. But if you've made it known that your small nonprofit would like to entertain a few interns for the summer and/or fall, you've probably got a couple interviewed and ready to start. And given that Social Media is a big deal that many small nonprofits can't afford a full-time manager for, you're probably thinking of letting one of those interns spearhead that effort.

As I've mentioned in a few posts, I'm not a big fan of giving your social media efforts over to an intern. By the time they're able to do a really good job, it will be time for them to leave. But I'm not stupid enough to believe that a small nonprofit won't find their youthful knowledge of SM and their attractive salary (often zero dollars) a big draw. Out of necessity or a desire to provide practical job experience or both, a social media intern may be in your future.

Knowing SM Doesn't Mean Knowing YOUR SM

Therefore, let's give them the tools they need to do the best they can for you in the smallest time possible. Not providing a clear roadmap for them will cause them to be frustrated at which point they'll lose all motivation. What do they need?
  • Education
  • Strategy
  • Goals
  • Calendar
  • Face Time

This is a duh item, isn't it? But don't neglect it and don't give your intern the cookie cutter version, either. First you need to know what they know about you. Then you need to know what they think they can do for you using SM. Once you know those two things, you'll know what they need to know in order to do their job. You know?

Seriously, it's not just your mission. This is also where you need to be clear on your social media policy. Will the intern write all of the content, some of it, none of it? Must all posts be reviewed before happening or only some? Where is the intern allowed to use critical judgment skills and where not? Where are the boundaries? Your intern needs to understand how your small nonprofit interacts with the community and its hopes for the future of that interaction. Which leads us to -


Lay it out for your intern. What's your big picture plan for using SM to increase visibility, interaction, donors, volunteers? Are you working at gathering specific data? What's the major priority and where are you putting your focus?

Goals (Should jibe with Strategy and Calendar)

Without goals, your intern won't have anything specific to shoot for and will be at a loss to know whether or not they are doing a good job. What specific goals should your intern be working towards? How are these folded into the tactics you want to use to implement your overall social media strategy? Work with your intern to come up with a workplan for reaching those goals - let the intern do a little research and come to you with an idea of which platforms would work best for meeting those goals and how much time should be devoted to each (Pardot has got a great infographic about this).

Calendar (Editorial)

Don't leave your intern out of the staff meetings. If you've several programs going on, the intern should know who is running them and what the major events will be so pre, during, and post social media tasks can be planned. Your intern also needs to know what the programmatic goals are for those events because time is a major factor in social media and the more the intern knows what you're hoping to accomplish, the better the planning to take advantage of the time windows.

Face Time

You might want to start with daily check-ins until your intern has settled in and then go to every other day and then weekly. These meetings will steady your intern and assure that you take the work seriously. Naturally, you'll be dropping in on your nonprofit's social media accounts to see how things are going; if responses are timely, opportunities for interactions taken, content appropriate to the goals set. You'll also want your intern's opinion (and that of the program manager) about whether the current goals are working and how they should be tweaked for better results.

At this point you've realized that handing over your social media accounts to an intern may not be as easy as you thought it would be. And that's good because it's not just about you getting some help, it's also about providing a worthwhile experience to a young person starting out - a young person who might choose to stay in the nonprofit world and - depending upon the experience - might even choose to continue supporting your work. So if you're going to hire an intern, make sure it's a good experience for both of you.

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