Navigating Social Media’s Fast Lane

Launching a social media campaign without a content marketing strategy is like driving on a dark road with no headlights. A strategic plan helps to pull your organization’s mission into focus and ensure your campaign targets the goals of that mission.

As with any editorial project, it’s important to know to whom you’re talking and what their needs are. Once you’ve done that, outline and draft the messages for each marketing channel, and schedule your posts. If you search online for “editorial content calendar templates,” you’ll find several examples to download. This template from Lightbox Collaborative is populated with ideas and events updated for 2014 that could become marketing opportunities for your organization. Download it here.

Use these 5 tips to help you stay focused and on task:

  1. Don’t be distracted. You’re probably juggling a zillion tasks like the rest of us. To reduce the overwhelm, set a specific time each day for posting and stick to it. After your scheduled time, if you see or read something you’d like to share, add a note to your to-do list or save the info in a physical or electronic file folder until later.
  2. Stay organized. My office desk often looks like the aftermath of a tornado, but I’m an organized beast when it comes to my digital files. I use Evernote for managing blog posts and other online content and use Scrivener to organize longer book-length manuscripts. In Evernote, I create a “stack” (main folder) for each project and “notebooks” (sub-folders) within the stack. For example, I create a separate notebook for each blog post and another notebook titled “Editorial Calendar”. These notebooks are placed in the “RR Journal” stack. I use the editorial calendar to plan my content, schedule posts, and manage production status. There are many project management tools to choose from—Google Docs, Basecamp, Trello, and more. I’ve tried several, but Evernote fits the way I work. The point is, whichever method or tool works for you, use it and be consistent.
  3. Write several posts at a time. You’ve heard this advice often enough. Schedule time to write multiple entries and queue them for later posting. Write enough content for one or two weeks, staying cognizant of time-sensitive news. For fillers, comment on or retweet relevant content from other bloggers or websites and provide the appropriate credits. Notify those groups or individuals that you’ve featured their content and invite them to link back to your site. I call this “courtesy marketing.” Not only does it extend your marketing reach and theirs, but it increases your business network and fosters new relationships.
  4. Use time-saving tools. Software like Tweet Deck allows you to post to your Twitter feed from your desktop and schedule multiple posts without having to go online. There are myriad free and moderately priced tools that can help you manage your social networking accounts. A few are Hoot Suite, SproutSocial, BufferApp, BuzzBundle, and Postling. Most offer free trials. A few tools designed specifically for nonprofits are Higher Logic and Socious. Blackbaud also has a number of tools to help nonprofits engage their audiences and manage various CRM efforts.
  5. Assign staff to do some of the posting. A successful social marketing campaign takes time that is usually in short supply. Allow skilled team members to share the load and assign a different posting day to each person. This keeps your sites active without overburdening one individual. Make sure every team member is aware of your organization’s social media policy.

For more inspiration and how-to’s, check out these resources:

Content Marketing for Nonprofits — book by Kivi Leroux Miller, founder of Nonprofit Marketing

Beth’s Blog — How Networked Nonprofits Leverage Networks and Data for Social Change

Social Fish — A social media blog for associations and nonprofits

The Pros, Cons and Costs of the Top 10 Content Distribution Platforms” — article by Jordan Teicher,

2013: The Year Nonprofit Social Media Grew Up,” — article by Debra Askanase, Engagement Strategist, Community Organizer 2.0

Experts Share Top Social Media Advice for Nonprofits,” Impatient Optimists—Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Nonprofit Tech for Good: A Social & Mobile Media Blog for Nonprofits — Nonprofit Tech for Good focuses on “providing valuable easy-to-understand information, news, and resources related to nonprofit technology, online communications, and mobile and social fundraising.”

Share Your Thoughts
What useful tips do you have for managing your social networking time, and what tools are your using?

Thanks for reading and sharing!

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