I'm aging myself, but social media didn't exist until my senior year of college when MySpace and Facebook burst onto the scene. I remember being skeptical of both platforms at first, but less than two years later, I launched my first nonprofit Facebook page. Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest all followed.
Since those early days, I've learned some simple strategies that nonprofits can use for managing social media. The main issue with social media management is time -- it takes a lot of time and effort in order to see results. Nonprofits should practice a lot of patience as a social media plan is put into place, and the social media manager should be ready to tweak the plan on a quarterly or semi-annual basis.
Here are seven simple strategies nonprofits can use to help ensure their social media is effective:
1. Select key topics that can help generate interesting social media content. For example, a health and fitness nonprofit might choose the following topics – local/regional health and wellness news, healthy recipes, fitness tips, local fitness events, children’s health and wellness, senior health and wellness, etc. It’s important to be really creative with these topics. They should interest our various audiences (donors, volunteers and the community at large) and be worthy of sharing!
2. Generate a weekly or monthly calendar of social media posts. The key to social media is consistency. Donors and volunteers will see content if it’s posted on a consistent basis. If possible, we want to create a calendar that has at least one post each day. We recommend varying the post times to see which time of day is best for specific audiences.
3. Schedule posts using Hoot Suite or a similar service. By utilizing a service like Hoot Suite, we can set up multiple posts at a time. It’s best to set a calendar reminder until this process becomes routine.
4. Drive social media posts back to the organization’s website on a regular basis. At the end of the day, we want to encourage our audiences to visit our website where they’ll learn more about our work, sign up to get involved as a volunteer or make a donation. In order to do this, we need to create inspiring posts that point back to our website. Ideally, most of our original content should originate from our website blog. For example, a nonprofit that builds homes for low-income families might share a first-person narrative from a homeowner or volunteer. When paired with some great photos, the story makes a great blog post, e-newsletter feature and social media share!
5. Communicate with audiences on a daily basis. We should put the “social” back in social media by taking time each day to connect with each of our social media channels. We can share community partners’ news and updates if they are relevant to our audience(s), interact with volunteers and donors, respond to questions and feedback in a timely manner, tag when possible and encourage reposting!
6. Monitor progress. It is very easy to set up a series of posts and move on to another project. Unfortunately, we don’t learn from that! By spending some time each week or month reviewing our analytics and creating a simple tracking spreadsheet, we are able to measure what works and what doesn’t work. We can track new fans/followers, popular posts/content, the best time of the day/week to post, etc. in a weekly or monthly spreadsheet, and then we can review it and tweak our process on a quarterly or semi-annually basis.
7. Put social media assets to work. Every nonprofit has social media savvy employees and volunteers, so why not encourage them to share our content with their respective networks? This is a great way to spread the word about our organizations and allow our most valuable assets to take pride in their work! Before getting started, we recommend setting up a clear social media policy about what’s appropriate to do/share during work hours. Also, a social media training session is a great way to ensure everyone is on the same page!
Know a nonprofit that needs help building their social media plan? Gerald & Joan can help!