Using Volunteers to help with Social Networking?
Sometime in 2009, the Idealware.org blog posed the question: Should a nonprofit organization task their Social Media responsibilities with a young volunteer or intern? It's something we considered at JCamp 180 as well. We understand that staff members haven't historically had the time to keep on top of all of the latest social media tools. And there are many passionate supporters of camp out there who "live on" Facebook and Twitter who would be glad to help out your organization.
However, there are some obvious drawbacks to "outsourcing" these activities to an intern or volunteer. First, do they truly understand your mission and values? Will they communicate with your constituents and prospects in an appropriate manner? Secondly, the social media strategy of an organization should really be integrated with the overall marketing/outreach strategy of the organization. If traditional messaging and outreach are maintained by in-house staff, why not social media conversations, which are even more personal and direct? Finally, what happens when that volunteer or intern decides they no longer have the time to participate?
Our take? Organizations should definitely leverage interested volunteers and interns to help. If your staff needs training, find supporters who work with social media professionally to help coach your staff. The could also work with the organization to help determine how social media should be used as part of their overall marketing/outreach strategy.
And volunteers could be tapped to help increase the reach and effectiveness of your social media efforts. They can Share and Retweet your posts with their Friends and Followers on various social channels. They can answer your questions and answer the questions of others who post on your Social profiles. The most useful role for your volunteers is to help you spread your message beyond your existing audience online.
Most importantly, however you utilize volunteers, be sure you provide them with very clear instructions...and thank them for all their help!
Have you had any luck utilizing volunteers or interns with social media or other technologies?