Making the case for hiring a social media professional
Even with all of the significant accomplishments by nonprofits in the social media space, many organizations don’t feel it’s necessary to have an in-house social media professional. Sometimes it’s an issue of budget, other times it’s the misconception that a specialist won’t add value to an organization’s marketing and communication strategies.
But the competition for attention on social media is stiff and I’d argue that organizations are missing out without a devoted social media professional on board. If you’re trying to make the case to hire a social media specialist, you aren’t alone.
Here are my tips on how to make the case for a hiring a social media professional:
1. Help your board and executives understand the potential of social media.
Your board members and executive team may have varying levels of understanding of social media. Some may be tweeting every day while others may not want to admit that they can’t remember the last time they looked at Facebook. Make it easy for everyone by holding a basic training session for the entire organization.
Take the time to show them profiles and conversations from prominent nonprofit organizations. Emphasize the ability of social media to directly connect with your target audiences. Make it easy for anyone in the organization to contact you with questions after the session – they may not be comfortable asking around their colleagues.
2. Show how a social media professional can offer a specialized skill set that includes strategic thinking and technical ability.
Using social media personally is very different from using it professionally. Anyone can send a tweet and instagram a selfie but a social media professional can think strategy and spot opportunities while managing risks for your organization. Social media monitoring has also become much more sophisticated than just counting “Likes” and retweets. A professional will have the technical skills to monitor success of campaigns and make recommendations moving forward.
One benefit of social media that often gets overlooked is the ability it creates to hear directly from your supporters. Social media professionals are often the first to hear when people in the community sing your praises or make complaints about their organization. Having a social media professional that is in tune with your target audience can bring a whole new perspective to the table when it comes to marketing and communications planning.
3. Show examples of how other nonprofits have benefited from having a social media specialist.
Look for social media success stories from nonprofits comparable to your organization in size, budget and scope. It’s easy to point at big international initiatives like Movember for being big successes but if you’re a small, local nonprofit, it’s hard to understand how you can achieve Movember-sized success.
Talk to social media professionals in your area who can speak to their ability to plan and execute strategies that help their organization’s message go “viral”. Use these examples to show your board and executive team that a social media professional is well worth the investment.
4. Bring in the help of influential business experts
Sometimes, it takes the sway of someone influential to convince your leaders that you need a social media professional. Look for well-respected business leaders in your area that can attribute much of their success to social media. Invite to them to share their knowledge at a committee or board meeting.
5. Identify and leverage your internal social media champions
You don’t always have to look very far to find support for a social media professional. Maybe it’s a board member who feels passionately about using social media to make social change. You may even have a colleague that is interested in obtaining some extra training to become your new social media professionals. Programs like Seneca SoMe allow working professionals to gain strategic and technical skills to help nonprofit organizations grow. Enlist these social media champions to help you persuade leaders.
6. Make the case that an intern won’t allow for continuity in social media efforts
I’ve seen a lot of postings for social media internships from nonprofits. While internships can provide great learning opportunities for both nonprofits and aspiring professionals, too many social media accounts fall silent after an intern leaves. To ensure strategic continuity, nonprofits need a full-time social media professional. Otherwise, all the hard work that goes into cultivating online supporters will fall to waste. With growing audiences on social media, it can also be risky to leave your organization’s reputation in the hands of an intern with little oversight.
Having a social media professional can also offer your interns more insight and opportunities to learn. The positive experience of interning with your organization may encourage them to continue their career in the nonprofit sector.
Keep in mind that your executives and board members have to manage a number of competing priorities for the organization — so patience is key in making your case to hire a social media professional. However, social media usage is growing for all demographics and it’s important for nonprofits to connect with their supporters in this space. For organizations to continue communicating and thriving, they simply can’t overlook having a sophisticated social media strategy and bringing in a professional is the first step.