Covering social media for a non-profit
October 9, 2012 7:51 AM   Subscribe

My organization has allowed me to hire a social media/digital communications coordinator. It's been going well, but now I need to ask for some equipment and I'm not 100% sure what to ask for.

I've worked at this non-profit for 12 years as the sole web person. I've gotten quite used to making do and using my personal tech, but am trying to move away from that.

I have someone covering events for us for our website and social media. So far, he's been using his personal phone for taking photos, tweeting and facebooking and we're reimbursing him for data. This doesn't feel ideal to me.

He also has an older desktop and I'm about to ask for a new laptop for him, but I'm wondering... do I ask for a netbook for him to take to these events? Do I say he needs a work-only smart phone? Would a tablet with a data subscription work well for this?

He's also been asked to record and edit video -- he has a work-owned flip cam and occasionally gets to borrow super high-end cameras from another dept and then needs to edit the footage--so a netbook couldn't be his only computer.

Are there any best practices folks can share around what equipment they use tweeting/facebooking/live blogging events? Or just any ideas of what makes the most sense in this situation, keeping in mind we're a non-profit so don't have loads of money to spend.
posted by jdl to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For really professional looking photos, you need a good camera. I'm not sure if it will come with a data-only plan, but the new Samsung Galaxy Camera sounds ideal. It is first and foremost a camera with excellent optics and imaging, but also runs Android and can connect wirelessly using a data plan and/or wifi. So you can take a ton of photos, do some basic editing on-device and instantly post to Twitter, Facebook, etc. as long as you have a connection.

You can also use any number of other apps to instantly backup all photos and videos to a private location (dropbox, Google+ account, etc) so you can always view, edit, post from a PC later without manually downloading from the camera using a USB cable. This is important because it allows you to find the hidden gems that might otherwise get thrown away. Also, once a photo or video gets backed up to "the cloud" you can delete it from the device and free up memory for more pics and video.

I'm sure it will also be more than adequate for shooting HD video - at least as good as video on other point and shoot cameras, but maybe not quite as good as dedicated high-end video cams.

I would say if you go with something like this, he probably doesn't need a netbook to bring with him to events - just go with a more powerful, but less portable, machine to be used for heavy editing.
posted by trivia genius at 8:22 AM on October 9, 2012

A netbook is going to be too clunky to use at events and too underpowered for anything else. If he is live-tweeting or whatever, his personal smartphone is fine for FB, Twitter, etc (assuming there are no cross-posting snafus!).

In terms of camera quality, if he is going to be taking a lot of pictures to use later (not just posting on social media) then it is probably worth it to invest in a decent camera, although I am not sure if you need one that's web-enabled or smart phone-like. Especially if budget is an issue.

I'm sure you know that you can generally get more bang for your buck for a desktop than a laptop. Is there a reason that he *needs* a laptop if he has his smartphone at events? I'd make sure you get him a desktop that can handle photo and video editing, then get him Adobe Creative suite and whatever video editing software the kids are using these days. If you are not familiar with Tech Soup, check them out as you should be able to get a discount.
posted by radioamy at 9:02 AM on October 9, 2012

I would consider just crafting a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Policy. You want this person to succeed at their job, and you want them to be comfortable with their technology - this is much easier if they use the device that they spend most of their waking moments operating. Taking a laptop to events is a pain and you can't take pictures with them, so there's not a lot of utility there.

If the ability to post good pictures and be "plugged in" (from a social media standpoint) is important for this person's job, ask to spend that money on upgrading their personal smartphone, maybe?
posted by antonymous at 9:20 AM on October 9, 2012

What kind of events are we talking about?

I am an online/new media person for a nonprofit organization. I would suggest asking him what equipment he'd like to use, since he's the one using it.

I use my iphone for everything I don't use my laptop for, FWIW. The photos don't look like they were taken by a professional photographer, but that's because I'm not one. For "action shots" from events, etc, I think it's fine.

My employer pays part of my monthly phone bill. I also have a work-issued laptop (which is not a model I recommend), but I sometimes end up using my personal laptop (MacBook Pro) for work stuff.
posted by lunasol at 10:04 AM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all of the helpful replies so far.

@radioamy -- indeed he doesn't *need* a laptop, so beefing up the desktop and having something else for events does sound smart.

@lunasol -- A variety of events -- for example, with 1k people + folks on a stage speaking, a 3-day gathering of 100+ ppl who work at or graduated from the programs we run, a small fundraising house party with 30 people, a Hill Day with 200 young people and 75 hill visits, etc.

I did ask him what he wanted and he was thinking an iPad, but he's never used one and my experience is that typing extensively on an iPad sucks. Basically what he wants is to not use his own phone and wants something more portable, which is what lead me here.
posted by jdl at 10:18 AM on October 9, 2012

I've done some of this sort of stuff during my web producer/multimedia career. I would suggest:

MacBook Air with 3g/4g cellular internet card
- This way they can do all the great liveblogging from anywhere or even edit video or photos in the field. They can use this as their main computer back in the office...especially if there is a bigger monitor they can hook up to.

iPhone 5 (or whatever fancy pants Android is out there)
- They do all the easy quick stuff like tweeting, shooting basic video, recording audio from anywhere. He'll likely need social/mapping apps on the phone like Hootsuite, etc..

My pet peeve is when employees need to use personal equipment for work. Buy him the stuff he needs to do his job. This is personal preference so he might prefer to use his personal one so that he only has to carry one device per what antonymous says above.
posted by rlef98 at 10:58 AM on October 9, 2012

OK, yeah, in that case I would suggest an iPhone (I have a 4S and it's great for events).

As for computer: I don't actually think an Air is necessary since he probably won't be using his laptop at events very much since it sounds like he's very mobile at these events. I would just go with the best laptop you can buy in your range and make sure you budget for video editing software.
posted by lunasol at 2:20 PM on October 9, 2012

Thanks so much everyone!
posted by jdl at 12:50 PM on October 19, 2012

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