Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter were once considered a trend but are now considered essential tools for nonprofits. With audiences growing accustomed to sophisticated online campaigns, it’s more important than ever to find a social media professional to help your organization stand out.

In my experience, many nonprofits look to agencies and freelancers to run their social media accounts. While specialized help can be extremely useful in creating strategies and providing ongoing consultations, an in-house professional’s familiarity with your organization puts them in a better place to leverage opportunities. They can also ensure continuity should you decide to change agencies and freelancers.

But finding the right social media professional to work in-house can be a challenge. There are plenty of self-proclaimed experts that lack the skills. Qualified professionals are in high demand and they also have to fit your organization’s culture.

Here’s how to hire a social media professional for your nonprofit:

1. Write a detailed job description

Your job description should be concise but give applicants a good idea of their day-to-day roles and long-term goals so they can tailor their resumes. Some common roles include social media strategy building, maintaining online communities, executing campaigns, supporting fundraising efforts, establishing relationships with influencers and measuring effectiveness.

A brief mission statement can be useful to applicants but they should be conducting their own research. Don’t list benefits unless they are unique to your organization.

2. Talk to local college instructors

Social media is a relatively new discipline, therefore trained professionals are often recently-educated. College instructors are well connected with their former students and can offer insight into their skills and work ethics. Introduce yourself via email and let them know that you’re hiring. If your area doesn’t have a social media program yet (it will soon) talk to instructors in related fields such as marketing, digital marketing and communications.

3. Network at association conferences

Many professionals and students attend association conferences to meet potential employers. Make it known that you’re looking for a social media professional. Bring business cards and be ready to talk about your organization. Check out these association sites to find a conference in your area:

4. Post on social media channels and popular websites

When I started looking for a job, I followed all the organizations I wanted to work for on Twitter. If your organization has a presence on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, don’t forget to list your job posting there. Ask your followers to share the posting with their networks.

You can also post on free sites like Craigslist and Kijiji. Some marketing and nonprofit sites offer job listings for a fee but can help you target your reach to industry professionals. These sites include CharityVillage, Marketing Magazine and FreshGigs.

5. Request to see portfolios and work samples

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of candidates, request to see their portfolios and work samples. Their previous work should show their capabilities, creativity and ability to bring results. Remember, Facebook and Twitter aren’t the only popular networks, so look for experience in other growing online communities like Pinterest, Tumblr and Vine.

6. Look outside the nonprofit bubble

You may find that applicants have a diverse background. With the increasing demand for social media skills, many people have made it a second career. Others may bring their experience from different sectors like corporate, start-ups and government. These professionals can offer you new perspective and differentiate you from other nonprofits.

7. Make an offer

Skilled professionals are in high demand so don’t wait too long to make an offer. “So many organizations ask me to recommend qualified professionals,” says Bhupesh Shah, marketing professor and program coordinator for SenecaSoMe, Seneca College’s social media graduate certificate program in Toronto, Canada. “I find that my recent grads are already working and the current class has yet to graduate — so I tell them they, unfortunately, have to wait.”

8. Trust your gut instincts

Many skills can be developed over time but personality can’t be taught! All the experience in the world doesn’t mean a hill of beans if the candidate isn’t compatible with your team. Always consider if the candidate’s work ethic and attitude is a good fit for your organization’s culture.

 

Finally, a healthy dose of passion is especially important in the nonprofit sector. The right social media professional can take the amazing things your organization is doing every day and share it with the world in a meaningful way.

Farah Ng

Farah Ng

Communications Associate at Saint Elizabeth Health Care
Farah is a communications professional that specializes in connecting healthcare nonprofits with their target audiences through social media and traditional public relations. She has worked with organizations such as Saint Elizabeth Health Care and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Foundation.
Farah Ng