Social media can be incredibly helpful for nonprofits in numerous ways. It’s probably the best method to share news and updates about the organization as well as the cause.
In addition, social media provides a deeper level of engagement with donors, volunteers, and the community that nonprofits have never really had before. And, most importantly, social media can be a big source of fundraising.
Recognizing social media’s importance is the easy part. Actually doing social media, on the other hand, is not so easy—namely because of the time involved. However, purchasing a social media management tool can save you loads of time while making you a more effective marketer.
The number of social media management tools is on par with the number of animal nonprofits in the Seattle area—in other words, there are a lot of them. To help you evaluate the best tool for you, I’ve compiled a list of five features that are must-haves for any nonprofit.
1) Schedule to Multiple Networks
Undoubtedly, your nonprofit has a presence on Facebook. Hopefully, you’re on a few other networks as well, especially LinkedIn and Twitter. Depending on the nature of your cause, you might be on Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and more.
One of the biggest ways a social media management tool can save you time is by enabling you to publish to multiple social networks from one dashboard. Make sure that your tool can do that.
Not all tools publish to all networks, however, so check the list of possibilities to confirm that the tool can publish to the networks you need. If a tool doesn’t publish to Instagram, and Instagram stories are a big traffic-driver for you, then that tool is not the right one for you.
Tooltip: SocialPilot enables publishing to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google My Business, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and VK.
2) Easily Engage with Your Audience
Social media has opened up a truly awesome channel of communication. The interaction possible with donors, volunteers, and community members is unprecedented.
But logging in to every network, multiple times per day, to respond? That would be a full-time job, and you already have three of those in your current role (Such is the life of a nonprofit marketer).
A good social media management tool will compile all your engagement, from all networks, into one place so that you can quickly and easily respond.
- Comments and replies on your posts
- Direct messages
- Mentions of your nonprofit on other people’s posts or comments,
- Comments on paid social media ads.
This must-have feature is called monitoring.
Another very helpful feature that dovetails with monitoring is called listening, which compiles any mention of your nonprofit that is in plain text. For instance, if a volunteer mentions what a fulfilling afternoon they had at A Home for Hens but she does not tag the organization, the listening feature would pull in that mention. Or, if a donor posts a link to your blog, you’d know it from the listening feature.
Listening also enables you to track hashtags, keywords, and other topics of interest. See what your competitors are doing, know when and where keywords are being used, and track hashtags relevant to your nonprofit—all from one dashboard.
Why are monitoring and listening such important features in a social media management tool? Because they enable you to respond to all your engagement and brand mentions very quickly.
Put on your donor hat for a minute: If you asked your chosen nonprofit when the next volunteer orientation was going to be held, wouldn’t you prefer a response within an hour or two (rather than a day or two)?
And now put your marketer hat back on: If someone mentions your nonprofit and tells of a negative experience without tagging you, wouldn’t you want to get in front of it immediately?
The answer to both questions is yes. Communication with your audience is so critical, so make sure you choose a social media management tool that enables you to engage quickly.
Tooltip: Sendible enables social listening on both Facebook and Twitter as well as on-the-fly keyword searching on both networks.
3) Evaluate What’s Working (and Not)
When a person is dieting, he can track his progress in a variety of ways—numbers on the scale, body measurements, and the way his clothes fit. Without these metrics, he wouldn’t really know whether his new diet was working.
Similarly, without analytics and insights into your social media, you aren’t able to know whether what you’re doing is effective.
When purchasing a social media management tool for your nonprofit, choose one that has robust reporting. It’s important so you can …:
- Identify the best days and times to post for your audience on each social network for maximum engagement.
- Track the number of posts you’ve made to each social network, the engagement of each post (likes, comments, shares, and clicks), and the visibility of each post (reach and impressions).
- Monitor your audience size and growth over time.
- See in black and white what your response times truly are.
- Learn your overall engagement and click rates for your posts.
- Identify influential followers based on their engagement—on your posts or your competitors’.
In addition to performance metrics, the tool’s reporting should provide you with audience demographics. These details—which include your audience’s gender, age, location, and language—will help you in future marketing campaigns.
Tooltip: Agorapulse offers very detailed reporting, including everything about your posts, your audience, and your competitors.
4) Consistently Post Engaging Content
Consistency is key for any business, especially nonprofits. You’re asking people to give their money to your organization, so you need to be constant—in the message you deliver, in your dedication to your cause, and in your presence on social media.
Your social media management tool will enable you to be consistent in a few areas.
First, the tool should be able to schedule posts, at the times you deem most impactful through the reporting you’ve received.
Then, once everything is scheduled, the tool should let you see a content calendar so that you can fill in gaps, move things around, and make other adjustments to drive engagement. Seeing a calendar from a 30,000-foot view instead of post-by-post on individual social networks can make a big difference.
In addition, the tool should help you in scheduling your content through either a Queuing or a Repeat feature (or both). Queuing enables you to set specific times of the day that are best for you to publish by network. Then you load up your content, and the tool fills in the spaces. A Queuing feature is critical for being consistent because you can schedule for days or weeks in advance. Some social media management tools let you bulk upload your content to be queued … just something to ponder.
Repeat enables you to share the same post again in the future—either after a certain amount of time has lapsed or on a set date. You want to be consistent in the message you share, and your nonprofit most likely has a lot of evergreen content on the website. You don’t want to recreate the wheel every time, so why not share the same things multiple times? After all, how many times do you need to see an ad before you remember what it’s for?
One other helpful nice-to-have feature is an image and asset library. Some tools have free (and paid) libraries so that you can create beautiful, compelling, graphical posts that will drive engagement. Access to free resources is helpful to budget-sensitive nonprofits.
Tooltip: eClincher has integrated Canva into its tool. Canva is an online design tool that features a robust free asset library, including images, icons, emojis, and more. Image courtesy of eClincher.
5) Curate and Cross-Promote Content
Sometimes, we get so focused on sharing our nonprofit’s message that we forget to talk about the cause and other groups supporting it as well as us. A social media management tool that finds content for you to review and share can help.
The feature you want is called Content Curation, and it happens through integration with content sources, such as Feedly, Pocket, or an RSS feed that you input. The tool will compile the content for you, and then you decide what to share.
Cross-promotion can be very important in the world of nonprofits. Following other groups that help your cause or other nonprofits in your area—and then sharing some of their content—is a great way for all boats to rise.
Tooltip: FaceLift offers a feature called Trendwatch that curates content from a million online sources. Image courtesy of FaceLift.
Purchasing a social media management tool for your nonprofit is a very important decision, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Once you know what you need, try out your top contenders (most tools offer a free trial), and then go for it. Just think about all the time the tool will save you—and how you’ll find a million other projects to spend it.
Guest author: Andi Lucas is the founder and owner of Hummingbird Marketing Services, a boutique marketing firm based in Seattle and serving clients around the globe. Andi has almost 25 years of marketing, editing/writing, and overall business experience.