Successful Social Media Digital Strategy Is a Continuous Improvement Process

By Beth Kanter

I am excited to lead a workshop, Becoming a Networked Nonprofit: Digital Strategies to Enhance Your Online Presence, with Jeanne Allen as part of the 2016 Conference for North Carolina’s Nonprofits, Nonprofits at the Crossroads, on Sept. 23.

Nonprofits have questions about how to make the best use of social media as part of a digital strategy, especially with limited time and resources. What audiences should you  target?  What are realistic and measurable results? What and how many platforms should you use? When it comes down to implementing the strategy, you need to embrace the best practices of engagement, content, and use of staff and others as champions.

Creating content for your social media strategy is a process of continuous improvement. It starts with ideas and brainstorming, so having a few brainstorming facilitation techniques to use with your team is useful. Then you have to get organized -- really organized. Not only do you need to pre-plan your content using an editorial calendar, but also coordinate and assign tasks and organize your content assets and curation. 

And, then there is the task of putting fingers to keyboard and creating the content, as well as curating. And on a regular basis, measure, learn, and improve what you are doing.

Many times when I describe this process, I notice a look of horror or maybe just stress. When I probe further, I often hear that this process requires a lot of discipline to make it part of the organization’s work flow, especially for small nonprofits, or a perception that it just takes too much time.

But, I like to think about it in terms of a cooking metaphor. If you do a little meal planning, are organized with your food shopping, stock up your pantry, have your recipes ready, then home cooked and healthy meals can be efficient. And, you don’t have to be a talented chef to do this.

 

Editorial Planning

The first step toward building this continuous improvement process in your organization is to start with a small planning step. Plan for one or two months or less of content. Schedule your first one-hour content strategy meeting with an agenda like this:

As a one-person blogging shop, I know too well about this discipline and how difficult it is to maintain, especially if you don't have an army of people on your team. Recently, I have discovered useful tools that can help make this whole continuous improvement process of your content less time consuming.

One such tool, Co-Schedule, puts all the steps into one dashboard. It integrates with your social media channels and allows you to pre-schedule your message, it integrates with your analytics tools so you can view your metrics, and it even connects with Google Calendar and Evernote and others. It is designed for one-person bloggers and small teams, so it is ideal for nonprofits that don't have a specialized social media manager on staff. It isn't free, but the $15 a month fee is reasonable - and certainly worth it in the time savings.  You can test it for free for two weeks here. That’s just one tool, but there are many others.

Content Assets: Organizing and Archiving Tools

That's a fancy name for your "pantry" or your sources - like photos, existing reports, or videos. I think the best approach is to use something like Box, Google Drive, or Drop Box and a folder structure organized like your editorial calendar. One nice thing about organizing your digital content is that you can easily repurpose and recycle it over the years.

 

Format Templates and Cheat Sheets

One of the things that Nancy Lublin mentioned during her keynote at Data on Purpose Conference  is that DoSomething templates all their campaigns.  Templates make the process more efficient to implement and also makes it easier for you to set up your measurement process.  If a blog is part of your social media channels, these templates from Hubspot are really useful. Does your organization develop and implement your social media content strategy as a continuous improvement process? There are clear benefits to doing so, and the time to start is now.

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