You would have noticed by now that the ‘best practices for beginners’ series focuses on everyday, low-cost and customizable strategies that your non-profit can implement in order to get the best returns on investment, engagement and interaction.
I have received several comments and feedback from my readers, highlighting how effective they found the last two posts on Social Media Strategy for Non-Profit and Digital Outreach for Non-Profits, as they highlighted specific goals and marketing tips that any social media novice could apply to their careers at the non-profit sector.
In today’s post, let’s look at the best practices that a social media manager needs to keep in mind as we embark on implementing the outreach programs and marketing plans for non-profits.
1. Relationship History
In my previous post on digital outreach, the number one best practice I highlighted was to ‘Map Your Audience,’ basically, you need to have in-depth knowledge of your demographic before you begin to draw up a detailed plan to market to them. As a web producer at a United Nations advocacy initiative, I maintain these records on an Excel sheet and ensure that this data is updated every 3-6 months (I know, it is tough, but it’s a best practice, so it has to be done!).
Here’s something really cool that you could add to that Excel sheet: maintain a column that highlights the history of relationship between that professional / donor / institution and your organization. The details would answer questions such as:
1. Number of years of association
2. Did the person / institution participate in events you organized or vice-versa
3. Have they contributed to your website through content, case studies or testimonials
4. Have you partnered with them for fundraising, industry workshops or trips
5. Point of contact
This particular bit of information is often not highlighted in social media outreach plans. When you have a ready reference on how your organization has worked with a particular constituent, you will be able to:
a. Reach out to them with specific material, at the right time and reach out to the right person.
b. Impress them with your insights on how your organization and theirs have worked together in the past.
2. Content Calendar
I will be honest enough to admit that when I started off as a social media consultant for non-profits and academia, I never thought about maintaining a content calendar. I could have had a much easier time managing my social media commitments if I had the foresight to commit to a calendar that featured all the content I was planning to release every day.
A visual map of your social media editorial does three things:
1. Gives you breathing space: If you have a sizeable portion of your content ready for launch a couple of days in advance, it acts as an armor. Preparation is half the battle won.
2. Gives you a quick visual representation of the kind of content you are promoting
3. Provides you insight on the possible posts you could promote in the future
The content calendar varies depending on the type of non-profit you work for and whether you are handling marketing, social media or digital communications via email and newsletter. But the gist of this Excel template would remain the same.
a. What’s the content?
b. Who is the audience?
c. Where are these posts going to show up?
d. What is the publishing time frame (start and end schedule and if there are repeats)
3. Social Media Analytics Dashboard
A social media manager’s primary goal is to highlight the successes of their social media campaigns. A social media analytics dashboard is a comprehensive datasheet detailing the various channels you have used to deploy specific marketing plans, across a scheduled timeline, and the depth of engagement for each campaign. I agree it’s complex and time consuming, requiring you to keep track of not just the superficial details (number of likes or followers for instance) but other meta-narratives such as:
a. Comments on specific posts and images (Facebook, LinkedIn)
b. How many impressions and clicks (LinkedIn, Facebook)
c. Mapping the constituency and dimension of engagers (who, where, age group, frequency)
d. Did the clicks lead to conversions on the website?
e. Response to paid advertising
f. Top keywords used to discover the campaign (search)
Unless you have hard data proving how effecting your digital marketing campaigns are in attracting visitors and getting conversions to a campaign, it’s not fair on your non-profit organization to justify your monthly fee as a hire and or plan incremental budgets for future social media campaigns. Maintaining a social media analytics dashboard also makes you accountable: you are training yourself to be disciplined (and honest) with the time and money you are allocated to handle a project.
4. Handy Tools and Techniques
My work is doubly challenging as I have to handle website updates along with community outreach, social media engagement, and relationship building (press, institutional outreach, marketing, etc.). What do I do to cut down on the stress and maximize the available time? I have a “toolbox” of techniques, shortcuts and spreadsheets I make use of to handle my day-to-day tasks.
Top of the list is TweetDeck, especially if you are handling multiple accounts for your non-profit organization and working across time zones. I can see you rolling your eyes and waiting to crib about the bugs on this Twitter management tool. Imagine if you have to log in to four Twitter accounts on four browsers everyday to keep track of the interactions and comments? Not to mention, tweeting throughout the day to take into account Asian and Atlantic times and catering to varied audiences! That’s what I do and it was a nightmare earlier. Scheduling tweets and having ready reckoner columns of all your accounts visible on one window is a great way to manage not just time, but information as well. And what do you know, cross-posting news from one account to another is as easy as a click.
Google Analytics custom dashboard. Another eye roll, I see that one coming. Once again, I understand what a pain point GA is and I know many social media managers relegate analytics to an end of the month activity. If you are a beginner in using Analytics, simply create a custom dashboard that has all your most needed dimensions and metrics visible on one window: number of visitors, pageviews, most viewed pages, keywords (although this has become sort of redundant now), country demography, social media engagement, and mobile analytics.
Sentiment analysis. Soon after an event, live tweeting session or a major promotion, I use one of the web’s free sentiment analysis tools to find out how positive, neutral or negative our audience has been towards the campaign. The science isn’t perfect yet, but I do give it credit for displaying results in real time. What’s more, when I send out a brief sentiment analysis report to the stakeholders engaged in the campaign, including the boss, they find it easy to circulate it internally and have a ready reckoner of their biggest supporters.
Delegate. You simply cannot be on top of all channels! This is especially relevant to managing Facebook and LinkedIn groups for your non-profit account. After the initial months of monitoring and moderating, pick out the dedicated users and promote them to group moderators and managers. You save time by not having to check for spam every day. A weekly quality check from you is more than enough to maintain quality control.
5. Update Your Skills
How will you know you are following best practices as a social media manager? Answer: update yourself, consistently and constantly. It’s especially mandatory in a field that sees new tool launches and new network releases every month! This means:
1. Reading as much as you can from the right sources (social media club, social media marketing news, social media weekly)2. Participating in Twitter chats that focus on social media best practices (Social Media Today)
3. Attending Webinars on social media strategies and digital marketing
4. Taking an effort to try out new tools and discarding comfortable old tools that no longer serve the purpose
5. Networking remotely: yes, this is do-able and highly recommended. Tap into LinkedIn groups to connect with other social media professionals. Don’t just be a lurker, actively engage and participate with the group members. Post questions, get your doubts sorted, share best practices you have employed, and,
6. Don’t be afraid to invent your own shortcuts and share it with the world. Best practices are not written on stone and keep evolving with the deployment of new platforms.
I would love to hear from other social media managers. Please share with us your tips and tricks to managing your campaigns!