September 17, 2010

Social media: Who will do the work in your org?

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Beth KanterNo 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 four days, from Sept. 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 knowledgeable 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” has 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 aware of the builders. They are encouraging audience members 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.

Article originally appeared at
Beth Kanter is CEO of Zoetica, a consultancy for nonprofits. See her profile, visit her blog, contact Beth or leave a comment.

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