If you read Phil’s blog post, From Seed to Success: How to cultivate a flourishing social media presence, then you rock. You want your nonprofit organization’s Social Media to be successful and you’re looking for guidance in the right places.

If you didn’t read it, you probably still rock, you just didn’t know it existed. Now you do! 😉

We highly recommend you read it for two reasons. First, because it will give you a fuller picture of where social media tools fit into your strategy. Second, because without it, the importance of finding captivating content may not fully sink in. But all you need to know for this article to have a comprehensive impact on your organization is that growing a Social Media presence is like growing a tree. Here you will learn how to develop deep roots for a sturdy tree.

It’s like, all connected, man.

Same as a tree exists in an ecosystem, surrounded by other trees influencing its growth, your organization’s Social Media health depends entirely on what is taking place around it and your adaptive ability to engage effectively. The challenging part is that the environment is not static, it’s natural. It changes all of the time. To grow your presence, you’ll need to present to your followers an understanding of their most valued issues, at the present moment. If you know what your audience cares about and you share that with them, you will connect, engage, and build trust.

Using the right tools

How do you gain this understanding and how do you share it? Just as every painter needs a brush, you will need tangible tools for creating your masterpiece. Do you think Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel with just motivation and his hands? The better your tools, the less manual labor you have to do to make your online presence flourish. These are the tools we use and recommend for your nonprofit organization.

TLC: Time, Listen, Community

The tools we use are broken up into three categories that fit under the acronym TLC. Just like TLC is needed to sow strong roots, employing the TLC tools will anchor your Social Media presence in its environment. Then, you get to watch it grow.

Time: Buffer, Hootsuite

Fact or Fiction: Social Media requires daily posting, which means you have to put in effort daily….False. With apps like Buffer and Hootsuite, you don’t want or need to be connected to Social Media every day to have a great online presence. Only a few hours a week in one sitting is required, at least. You schedule your posts on any Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+ pages for up to months in advance. Then, they’ll be posted automatically.

Buffer is a superior scheduling tool and Hootsuite is a much better community management tool, however both can be used for either function.

Both are $10/mo for basic plans and work with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Buffer

Buffer is great for breaking up the automatic scheduling of your posts. It allows you to set up posting times for each of your social media channels (seen below) for every day of the week so you don’t have to choose a random time each time you post. You simply insert the content and add it to the queue. The Buffer Chrome Extension allows you to click on any photo or link and buffer (schedule) it directly from that page. To learn more about Buffer or its capabilities, check out their faq page.

Listen: Google Alerts, RSS, BuzzSumo

Listening to what your audience cares about is perhaps the most essential step in creating a meaningful relationship with them. These tools feed you content related to topics important to your organization.

Google Alerts

When you sign up for a Google Alert, you will receive an email with Google’s most relevant articles based on that topic at a rate of when the article is published, at most once a day, or at most once a week. We recommend daily Google Alerts. This gives you not too much to digest at once (a whole week) yet is infrequent enough that you’re not overwhelmed with emails more than once a day.

RSS

Google Alerts is great for feeding content but can get to be a bit annoying when you’re sent daily emails. Following an RSS feed is an easy way to consolidate relevant, meaningful information, and the best part is that it’s all within your control. Every blog or online news site has an RSS feed where the URL can be copied into an RSS reader that downloads all of the news/ postings from that site, making finding great content that much easier. You can view many RSS feeds at once using a free online RSS reader. We recommend feedly.com. The interface is visually appealing, we love the home feed, and adding RSS feeds is easy as pie!

Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo gives you valuable content insight on certain topics, who the influencers are on these topics, the content they post, and how much traction these posts are getting across social media. It’s a great tool for looking at what similar organizations are doing and what is successful for them. With that information, you can create content that is similar to what other organizations in the same field are producing, or directly share their popular content with your audience. This helps create a network both with your audience but also with other similarly-valued organizations. Be sure to tag them in your post to let them know you’re supporting their content and to give recognition to the original creator of content.

Community Management

When your audience or other organizations interact with your pages by messages, commenting, sharing, retweeting, favoriting, replying, etc. you are presented with a prime opportunity to establish a more personal relationship with whomever is engaging. How fast you respond to these interactions from people engaging your page is a strong determinant of whether or not this person will feel appreciated for their engagement. If you take too long to respond, the likelihood they will interact on your page again or feel good about their experience on your page drops dramatically. It is therefore important to make sure you’re always alerted when someone does like your page and then you can make an informed decision about how you’d like to engage with them.

Notifications

As a first step, ensure that you have all of your social media channels’ notification settings set to alert you immediately for notifications. Second, download all of the apps for your social media channels onto your smartphone so that you will get push notifications when you’re on-the-go.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a great tool for engaging with your audience as you can add streams that are exclusive to activity such as retweets, activity, mentions, etc. as well as your feeds from your profiles to see likes, comments etc. Once in Hootsuite, you can immediately retweet, reply, comment back, etc. to the engagement. Also on your smartphone, you can set push notifications that have “quiet hours”. You can toggle and untoggle certain types of notifications based on their importance to you. If you want to know your new followers for example, you can set that as a notification. But if not, you may remove it from the active list. Hootsuite allows for control over all your social media engagements to stay connected to your following.

Navigating the unchartered waters of online marketing can be intimidating, but Phil is here to help. Don’t be shy to send us an email or sign up for one-on-one training. We also offer team and group training if you’d prefer a more classroom approach (in person or as a webinar). We make it our responsibility to make sure you can continue to use the tips and tools we’ve provided so you can take your organization to the next level!