As a nonprofit professional, you wear many hats.
Between answering emails, making phone calls to supporters, editing the annual appeal letter and coordinating fundraising events, who has time to maintain more than one social media site?
You do have time. I promise.
The answer to managing it all lies in one word – planning!
Use a Social Media Calendar to plan a month or more worth of social media posts, and avoid that middle-of-the-day dread when you have yet to post to Facebook or send a tweet.
If you are only posting once per day on one or more social networks, then a Topic Calendar may work for your organization.
This calendar features a specific topic for each day of the week, and all of your posts stay on topic.
For example, a local food bank could create content based on this Topic Calendar:
Monday – Nutrition Monday – Share a nutrition tip or current news story about nutrition or nutrition myths.
Tuesday – #CharityTuesday – A post featuring one of their nonprofit or community partners.
Wednesday – Wisdom Wednesday – Post a graphic and an inspiring quote that motivates you or relates to the cause.
Thursday – #TRT or #ThrowbackThursday – Post an old photo of volunteers, staff, clients or an event and ask people to guess the date, place, etc.
Friday – TGIF! Highlight a local event going on that day or that weekend that will be of interest to supporters.
A more in-depth Social Media Content Calendar may be required if you are posting across multiple networks several per day, along with publishing blog posts and email newsletters.
Creating Your Social Media Content Calendar
1) Start simple. Use an Excel spreadsheet or a Word document. Make sure to upload it to Dropbox, Google Docs or another cloud service so that all social media managers can access it at home, on the go or in the office.
2) Label your columns. The first column will list the social media channels that you use (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blog, Email, Pinterest, etc.) and the next seven columns will list the days of the week. I recommend posting at minimum 5x per week for Facebook, 3x per day for Twitter, 3x per week for LinkedIn, and 3x per week for Pinterest. When deciding to use any social media tool, the frequency of posts and the number of channels are determined by your Social Media Plan. (You have one, right? I will write more on how to create a Social Media Plan in future posts.)
3) Configure the rows. Each cell is one post. Add two Facebook rows if you post twice per day, three Twitter rows if you tweet 3x per day, etc.
Add a row for your Blog and one for Email Marketing so you can see where they fit in.
4) Start adding content! Look at your calendar for three, six, nine and a year out.
Make sure you add all events, meetings, volunteer trainings, organization milestones, birthdays, anniversaries, upcoming announcements, networking meetings, etc. This ensures that nothing falls through the cracks and that all events are promoted enough in advance.
5) Always refer back to your Social Media Plan and your goals.
Ask yourself – Is this post/tweet/pin going to help me accomplish my goals for the organization?
It is ok, even encouraged, to go off topic on social media. This will help you engage your supporters, make them laugh, encourage them to share your content and therefore get in front of new people and increase your exposure. Going off topic shows that you are human, that you are not robots, and that you have personality.
6) Do not just look internally for content!
In other words, don’t just post stuff you created yourself!
Social media is about being social after all. Create good karma by sharing others posts and tweets (making sure that it provides value and is of interest to your audience). In this way you will showcase your knowledge and become a resource to your followers.
Always share content that resonates with your followers. Somehow, I am sure they have other interests than just your organization.
7) Be flexible.
Don’t be married to the calendar. If something happens in the news, if there is an exciting development in your field or if you just want to post about the Royal Baby being born (because everyone is talking about it), then do it!
This is not brain surgery – a couple of off-calendar posts are not going to kill anyone. Being flexible, timely and relevant matter much more than staying 100% on message.
I have included a downloadable Free Social Media Calendar Template for you to use – one that I use with my clients.
Do you use a Social Media Calendar? Why or why not? Have you found any others that are useful to your organization?