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Kivi, thanks for the post. I gave a presentation today to a client and these were exactly some of the topics covered. It must have been a good day for social media projects and such :) Your last paragraph nailed social media on the head! It's not all about pushing information (or selling your product!), it's about building relationships and adding value. Great post!

Jamie Favreau

I have to agree.

I interned for a non profit and I seemed to get connected to the head honchos in the main office in NY. This didn't seem to work well with my boss who wasn't that connected. Through Twitter, Facebook and Linked IN I made sure I was connected with the people who made descisions in NY. This turned out to be good and bad. Good because I got the chapter on Mission Fish after I left and bad because my boss who wasn't really educated on the matter did not understand what I was doing.

I can see why it should be a team effort and maybe they should bring someone in to educate them on the tools and how to use them. It would be a one shot deal but they could learn a lot from this experience then they can pass the updates onto the intern. But if there isn't anything concise going on then you get a constant name change which is why when I left I made sure I put it under the Communications Director's name when I left the facebook account so it wouldn't change every 3 months.

A lot of the stuff I started is still being used by the Chapter. I am glad that even though for the most part it was a clashing of ideas I am glad they are doing what I taught them.

I started them using Delicious so they could log their stories which are printed there. That way you don't have to look for them when they create a media book.

Deborah Zanke

Great post. I've linked interns for specific social media projects with nonprofit clients a couple of times with great results. However, it really is important to be clear about expectations and goals otherwise projects can go off the rails pretty quickly.

The other thing to keep in mind is that just because an intern is young does not mean he/she is a social media expert or even social media savvy. Using social media for personal use and putting it to use as part of a communications strategy are different things.

Angus Parker

I would add a word of caution. It seems like a lot of non-profits are simply handing their SM implementation to interns without first conceiving a strategy. Also if social media is as important as we all think it is, why would you hand it over to interns who presumably don't know your organization and its programs very well, and don't have any personal relationships with your community or its influencers (your target audience).

Beth Kanter


That is a good point. I remember back about ten years - with Web 1.0, some of the early web pages from nonprofits were created by interns - because they organization didn't have someone who understood it and it was an easy hand off.

I think working in inter-generational teams, especially when there is a need to get comfortable with understanding how the technology works and the intern can get some guidance is a good balance.

Angus Parker

Beth: Yes, I agree a combination of the softer skills / institutional knowledge (presumably from longer tenure program staff) with the technical skills / time to spare of an intern.

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