Meet Mary Bernard, a junior from Breen-Phillips Hall. Mary is an Anthropology major and a Journalism minor, and she spent the Fall 2018 semester as a Social Media Intern at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. For her internship, Mary wrote tweets for the @BrookingsInst Twitter account, she created videos to be shared across social media, and she drafted the Brookings Brief morning newsletter each day, which had a subscriber count of 150,000 people.
Over the course of her internship at Brookings, Mary also had the opportunity to audit the social media accounts of scholars, Brookings research programs, and The Institution at large. She analyzed accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, looking for trends and creating recommendations for improvement. Throughout Mary’s time at Brookings, aided by the on-the-job learning of performing audits, she began to understand the importance of strategic communications plans for companies, brands, and think tanks. Selecting goal audiences and analyzing the current following are parts of communications that she had not worked on before, so getting to observe the Communications team at Brookings and learn new skills was a formative experience.
Because the concept of strategic communications was new to her, she made up for her lack of knowledge by doing supplementary readings throughout the semester as part of a directed readings course in Business Anthropology. Mary subscribed to several digital media newsletters, like Adriana Lacy’s Social Status, the American Press Institute’s Need to Know, and the Digiday Daily. She read from a variety of news outlets and nonprofits on audience engagement and social media. She looked critically at Brookings’s Twitter presence using online analytical programs, and was able to identify four major social media marketing trends and develop recommendations that could have implications for Brookings.
The social team at Brookings spent a lot of time auditing program accounts, setting goals for scholars, and offering insight on social media best practices; however, the Communications team should also dedicate some of that energy towards auditing @BrookingsInst itself more frequently. Because of the freedom Mary had as an intern, she was able to both help Brookings with their daily priorities while immersing herself in the topic of social media marketing. Through that process, she continually thought of ways her learning could apply to Brookings. Her recommendations included getting Brookings content onto mobile apps like Google and Apple News, utilizing Instagram polls, and taking advantage of Twitter threads. Despite being new to Brookings and new to marketing, Mary hopes that the research findings might help Brookings approach problems with new knowledge, even if her recommendations cannot be implemented at this time. The takeaways from the research can inform day-to-day tasks without causing any large overhauls. Having the freedom to do additional research helped Mary grow her newfound passion for analytics and strategic communications, all through an anthropological, consumer-focused lens.