This is a follow-up question from the Parliament Webinar, "Reimagining Interfaith Conversation: Engaging Your Community Throug..." with Beth Katz.
Thanks for asking such an important, and yet too often overlooked question. The start-up costs for launching both an internship program and an on-going, dynamic social media presence can be significant but certainly can be a worthwhile investment. I'll tackle the internship program first. The greatest start-up "cost" of having an internship program is going to be the time it takes you to write job descriptions for each internship position, recruit and hire for the open positions, and in orienting/training and managing the interns. Some other potential associated start-up costs might be in acquiring the necessary office and technology equipment (i.e. a computer with an internet connection) and office supplies that they need to do their jobs as well as the costs of offering them a stipend or payment. I would also budget some funds for professional development opportunities for your interns (remember, most interns are looking for tangible experiences and skills that they can use to advance professionally and you allowing them to participate in a conference or webinar with their peers can be a great networking opportunity not just for them but for your organization).
As far as the start-up costs for having a lively social media presence, the greatest one again is probably time. Once you have a computer and an internet connection, you can set up social media accounts for your organization. I'd suggest just starting with Facebook and Twitter (or YouTube or Vimeo if you predominantly use video) as they are free, pretty simple to use, and have the widest followings. If you are targeting a very specific audience though, you might want to do some research to see what sites they are using most and then go forward from there. The investment of time is not just in setting up and managing the accounts but it is also in developing clear and consistent messaging. One thing we have done at Project Interfaith that has been very helpful is to have an advisory communications committee of PR and Communications professionals that helps us with messaging. And don't forget that if you're intern is going to be the primary person communicating over social media that it pays to take the time to make sure you both are on the same page about the messaging that is going out. Finally, to help you manage multiple multimedia accounts, you may want to use Hootsuite or a similar social media management dashboard which allows you to send a post to multiple accounts at once. I hope this helps. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if something is unclear or to continue the conversation.
Local colleges are teeming with students looking for internship opportunities. You give them experience and time; they reward you with special skills and enthusiasm. Financial cost = 0
Best solution: hire an intern who knows social media and ask them to develop a web presence for your organization.