With jobs across the country scarce, a positive development in recent years has been the increase of social media positions.

According to a recent report by PRweb.com, demand for social media managers is now twice what it was in 2010. Another article in the Los Angeles Times says that the number of social media postings on Monster.com surged 75% in 2011.

But often these jobs are handed to marketing professionals rather than tech-savvy youths, according to the LA Times piece.

Which is why recently our social media team met with a group of interns from the marketing and communications department to answer common questions and concerns that they had about social media, and tips for gaining a leg-up when they enter the working world. Among commonly discussed topics were:

How often should we post on our brand's page?

This is up to the discretion of the page administrators, but as a general rule, aim to post at least once a day on your outlets. People become fans of your page because they want to know what is happening around your organization and industry.  It is important to deliver relevant content on a consistent basis.

Concerning your content, keep it succinct. Posts on Facebook and Twitter under 80 characters get a 23% higher interaction than longer posts, though 75% of posts do not fall under this category.

What time should we post?

According to a report by Kissmetrics.com, Saturday at noon is the best time of the entire week to post on Facebook, while on Twitter, the most retweets occur after 6 p.m. The best approach is to test the timing of your posts in order to discover what works best for your audience.

What type of content should we post?

Social media is a two-way street.  Be conscious not to only push your brand and its events, and call it a day; it defeats the purpose. Share interesting articles that pertain to your organization or industry. Participate in conversations with others and retweet insightful posts.

Photos are the pinnacle of engagement. They garner a response rate up to four times that of other posts, according to socialmediatoday.com.

For videos, keep them short and sweet. The longer the video, the higher the chances the user will tune out. Try to keep your video around one minute, YouTube advises.

How should we respond to comments, especially negative ones?

In today’s age, people expect answers and they expect them fast. Try to deliver by answering all inquiries and comments within 24 hours if possible. Social media isn’t just a marketing vehicle—it’s also a tremendous customer service tool. You wouldn’t call a company and expect to hold on the phone for 48 hours before you were provided an answer. Social media shouldn’t be any different.

Chris Kalloo, a sophomore marketing major at George Washington University, interned in the social media department at JHM during the summer of 2012. He said he was surprised by how many people interact with the page.

“People asked serious and personal questions throughout the day. These were posts that had they been left unanswered, definitely would have hurt the perception of the hospital,” said Kalloo, who oversees social media efforts for his school’s club lacrosse team.

And while it can be tempting to delete a post or comment just because a poster criticized your organization, in the eyes of the poster it is a justifiable experience they had.  Be sure to look into the issue carefully and check all resources before responding off-cuff.

What social media outlets should my organization be on?

Before you answer this question, ask yourself: What resources does my organization have at its disposal? Social media is time-consuming and strategic. Don’t just delve into the new and hottest platforms because everyone else is doing it.

Before you join a new outlet, make sure you understand the space and have the adequate resources to devote to it. Otherwise you could be doing your organization a disservice. It’s better to be on fewer outlets and run them well, then be on several outlets and not be able to stay active. Focus on quality over quantity.

How is Johns Hopkins Medicine utilizing social media?

At Johns Hopkins Medicine, we work with various entities across the institution such as the Kimmel Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins Medicine International, and our Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, among others, to push out health news and tips, upcoming events, free seminars and more.

Anything else?

Yes, enjoy yourself. Experiment and try new content. Social media is one of the most powerful tools in the world. It provides news updates, keeps friends and family connected, serves as a customer-service tool, and so much more.

“Social media experience is critical, especially for prospective  job seekers, but it’s much more than that. It is also interesting and fun,” said Kalloo.

You are the driving force for your organization’s online brand. Enjoy the ride!

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