Hi! I’m Erin Bensinger, a freelance social media strategist and nonprofit board director at the Vine Neighborhood Association. I’m dropping in on Josie’s blog this month to share my three favorite strategies to help small, mission-driven organizations make the most of their social media presence.
When used well, social media for nonprofits can be a powerful tool for reaching, engaging, and informing your audience. The truth is, though, that it’s easier said than done—different tools require different skill sets, and staying on top of posting frequently can be a challenge for volunteer staff. Here are three strategies for working smarter, not harder, on your nonprofit social media marketing plan.
Use a scheduler
Social media schedulers allow you to plan batches of content in advance, rather than creating and sharing content whenever you have time. They can help you turn a constant, nagging to-do list item into a weekly two-hour task. The key is picking the right tool for you.
I recently wrote a post on my blog about my favorite free schedulers, where I explained the pros and cons of a few good free options: Later and Buffer.
Later is a great option for organizations who focus on Instagram. Their free plan allows you to connect one “social set,” which is one of each type of account offered (one Instagram, one Facebook, one Twitter, one Pinterest, and one TikTok). You can post up to 30 posts per social profile per month. It also offers “lite” analytics reporting. The interface is user-friendly: it’s simple, highly visual, and adjustable.
Buffer is a streamlined, utilitarian solution whose free plan allows you to connect up to three social media accounts regardless of platform, which is a great solution for organizations managing multiple accounts on the same platform. Buffer also allows you to pull other users’ tweets directly into your schedule for future retweeting, which is awesome for Twitter users who want to engage with their community and avoid seeming like they’re tweeting from a silo.
As with most tools, though, you get what you pay for. So if social media is an important part of your organization’s marketing strategy and you have the budget to spare, consider upgrading to a paid plan on the above tools (Buffer offers a 50% discount for nonprofits!), or a premium tool such as Loomly or Sprout Social. Your team will thank you!
Create an efficient workflow
Planning and scheduling social media for an organization is a completely different task than snapping breakfast pics for your personal account. Here are my top tips for building an efficient social media workflow for you and your team.
Plan in batches
Planning your content in batches is the most efficient way I’ve found to stay on top of writing and scheduling content. The amount of posts in each batch will depend on how frequently you’re posting. I have some clients whose content I write in weekly batches, and some whose content I write in monthly batches—some organizations even batch quarterly or yearly! Just make sure that you’re not taking on too much writing in one sitting.
Gather images first
Whether you’re designing graphics, using stock photography, or using your organization’s own images, collect all your visuals first. Creating graphics and selecting the right photos can be a time-consuming process, so be sure that you allow yourself plenty of time to search and arrange your visuals according to your content calendar before you even start writing.
Write captions second
Once your images are ready to go, it’s time to write! Remember to write your social captions in your organization’s brand voice, to start each caption with a compelling hook, and to end each caption with a call to action (aka a CTA). A good CTA directs the reader to take a certain action: to sign up for your email list, to RSVP for an event, or even to leave a comment with their thoughts.
When it comes to social media content, it’s not a matter of quantity versus quality. It’s all about consistency (Ok, quality is important too—but consistency is more important than that!).
Most social media applications reward users for consistent use, so if you post around the same times on the same days of the week, you’ll still be able to keep up good engagement. If it’s not sustainable for your team, don’t put the pressure on to post every day. Start out by posting twice per month or once per week, then increase your pace as your team is able. There’s no quicker path to burnout than planning more posts than you can produce—and burnout leads to no posts at all, which is worse for your organization’s engagement than one post per month.
Speaking of burnout: your content planning process should take no more than a few hours per week (or a little longer if you batch monthly). If you or your team is taking days to plan and schedule content, try scaling back your frequency. As long as you stay consistent and your content is engaging for your audience, your marketing efforts won’t suffer for it.