Social Media: Who Will Do The Work? | Beth's Blog

Social Media: Who Will Do The Work?

Networked Nonprofit

Three Models

No matter where I’m speaking or teaching workshops, the same questions come up …

How much time does it take to do social media effectively?
Who in our organization is going to do the work?
How are ever going to find the time to do social media?

Social media does take time even if you are efficient.   While the specific hour count can vary depending on what depth of your social media strategy,  you need at the minimum couple of hours of week for a selective strategy.    There are three options:

  • Free:  Leverage volunteers, fans, or interns
  • Integrated:   Review and prioritized tasks in existing  job descriptions and make room for social media tasks
  • Staffed:   This can be quarter, half, or full-time

 Of course, these options are not mutually exclusive.    Here’s a great example of mixing the first two.

This year as part of my role as Visiting Scholar for Nonprofits and Social Media at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation I’ve been coaching grantees.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with ZER01, the producer of the 01SJ Biennial , a multi-disciplinary, multi-venue event of visual and performing arts, the moving image, public art, and interactive digital media.   The organization has a small administrative staff.  The staff person responsible for social media is Danielle Siembieda who  has other responsibilities beyond social media.   

Under the theme “Build Your Own World,” ZER01, in collaboration with dozens of partners, will present over the course of 4 days, from September 16-19, hundreds of artworks, performances, events, and artist talks, which not only imagine the future of the world) but begin to build it.   

Danielle’s challenge was how to creatively incorporate the use of social media to enhance the experience of the audience to select and participate in many different simultaneous arts events taking place.    Given the Silicon Valley location,  the audience would doubt have smart phones in hand and be likely to be posting on Facebook, Twitter, or checking into locations using Foursquare or the festival blog.

Danielle set up a “Social Media Builders” group of interns who are knowledgable about the art work and comfortable using social media.    During the three-day festival, they will be live tweeting events,  engaging with the audience on Twitter,  leaving tips on Foursquare, video blogging, photographing, and otherwise using social media to capture the event.

Each “Social Media Builder” as a profile on the site.   Each profile has their social media presence information and what they will be covering.  The program book and other print materials will be distributed at the event to make people away of the builders.    They are encouraging audience to ask them questions and engage with them during the performances and events.    Danielle also did some training and prepared some “cheat sheets” for the volunteers to use.  

This is a small pilot to understand the work flow, time commitment and to identify the most effective to incorporate social media into the event that enhances audience enjoyment and understanding of the art.

If you are in the Silicon Valley in the next few days,  check out the event.

9 Responses

  1. Erica Grigg says:


    That’s such a good question that I’ve been encountering across organizations, including several that were potential clients (I do social media for green non-profits and social enterprise).

    It seems time should tell–communicators need to be paid.

    Thanks for this piece,
    Erica Grigg

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  3. Annie Lynsen says:

    This question really does come up a lot. My boss wrote about this recently for Indianapolis ORG magazine, and I think he nailed some really key points about how to determine who “steers the ship” of social media at your organization.

    More than their relationship within the company, it’s important that the person in charge of social media have these three qualities:

    1. A passion and long term commitment to the organization and its mission
    2. A depth of understanding of the organization’s goals and direction
    3. A grasp of how social media specifically can help your organization meet those goals, which includes a grasp of how social media works.

    If anyone’s interested in reading more, the full post can be found here:

  4. Andy Giesler says:

    A question on the “integrated” vs. “staffed” distinction: is the main distinction whether or not a new person is hired for the social media work?

    If so, the distinction between these will sometimes, be blurry, right? For example, if employee Jane makes room for 25% work as a social media coordinator, presumably either 25% less other stuff is getting done (less service provided) or the nonprofit will eventually, indirectly hire someone to make up that time.

    I think the 1/2/3 framework is a very good one. I just want to be sure I’m right in understanding it, and also understanding the whether there’s a gray zone.

  5. Scott Crane says:

    Some interesting questions. The three positions to take outlined above need some fleshing out…I’d like to see sample job descriptions for a social networker/marketeer (because that is, ultimately, what they are doing for a business practicing social networking) and a suggested alotted time for each network/ internet social network identity. Are any of you aware of such?

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