A crop of students are moving off to summer internships, paid and unpaid, and many have social media as a chunk of their work. It’s a task that many organizations are happy to outsource or delegate, especially to the digital natives.
But, as you know, doing it right is different from just having a thousand friends on Facebook.
Add to that wave the number of rising seniors or recent graduates who want to leverage social media for their resumes and job searches. The work requires a shift in thinking from using Facebook for personal reasons. Most digital natives have certainly learned the power of Facebook for organizing and the pitfalls of TMI on social networks, but there’s always more to learn.
The first step: Recognize that managing social media for an organization is different from using the tools for personal use.
Plenty of advice exists. Finding the good advice is hard.
Here are some pointers to sources, sprinkled with tips:
From Mandy Jenkins, DC social news editor for the Huffington Post: Social media guidelines to live by. Her full blog: Zombiejournalism.
Shortening websites addresses for Twitter: Use bit.ly on a separate tab, and sign up for a bit.ly account. You can add a plus sign to the end of any bit.ly shortened url to get specific data about the number of clicks on the link, and you can get other data with a bit.ly account.
Important Twitter spam tips: Don’t click on links sent to you via @ or direct message from someone you don’t know (just like Facebook). Look at the stream of their other tweets first to decide if they’re real or if they’re a bot or a spammer repeating the same message to many people. Beware photos of pretty women or even women who look like your mom. They’re often disguises. Always judge Twitter people by taking a good look at their stream of recent tweets, not just one tweet.
Personal or pro? Draw a line between your personal use of social media and your professional use, but feel free to explore where that line should fall. Trust your gut. Make good choices. You get to decide when or whether to use your network of 1,000 friends for the benefit of your organization. Don’t exploit your real friends, but evaluate when they want to know something that you’ve learned through your work. Consider separate accounts, for personal and work. You can inject personality into professional accounts, but be smart.
Listen and read: Use social media for listening, reading and smart searching, not just broadcasting. Use advanced search tools through Twitter search to look for keywords. Pay attention to what others are saying about your organization. Keep in mind that growing companies (and future jobs) are specializing in the analysis of content in social media, so learning how to search smartly will serve you well.
On Facebook, read up on the strategy, timing and best practices from people who know what they’re doing and keep up with changes (which seem to happen all the time). Suggestions: Why Facebook users unliked you, by Scott Hepburn, Walk through Facebook privacy settings, from Jeff Elder and how to use Facebook for an organization from Facebook itself.
Good organizations will give you advice from those who have gone before, room to experiment and a list of their own rules. Read them. CEO John Paton of the Journal Register has a strong list of social media rules.
Making the most of your internship, from Steve Buttry:
UNC’s Andy Bechtel about editing and headlines (a writing style quite similar to tweets), plus UNC student posts on his blog.
Twitter software clients:
Twitter for iPhone (simple, fast, mobile)
TweetDeck, as an app downloaded to your computer or your phone. More complicated than basic Twitter, but good for searching, categorizing and filtering when accounts get large
Cotweet Multiple accounts, multiple users.