How Often Should Your Non-profit/Association Be Posting On Social Media?

Posting on social media can sometimes feel like driving on an icy road; if you veer too far to one side, you’ll skid off the path and into the ditch. If your organization posts too little, the account will become irrelevant and people will lose interest. If you share too much content, people will likely feel overwhelmed and annoyed and will probably unfollow or unlike your account (or the equivalent).

It’s difficult to gauge how often your non-profit or association should be posting on social media. It varies with the platform, the audience and what your organization’s wants to achieve. While one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to frequency of posting, we’ve put together a guideline to help you and your non-profit out.

Facebook: 5-10 per week

This may seem low, especially because other sources suggest anywhere from 14 to 25 posts per week, but fewer posts are often better for non-profits and associations because of their audiences.

Facebook is a more private platform than, for example, Twitter and YouTube. Your followers are often restricted to those who are truly invested or engaged in what your organization works towards, such as members or donors. Fewer posts allow your organization to highlight the things that are important to this very defined audience, like highlighting a new initiative, member benefit, event or member accomplishment. Limiting the number of posts to 10 or fewer per week helps keep interest and engagement high. When you’re only providing content that appeals to your target audience, instead of posting simply because you want to meet a weekly quota, people are less likely to scroll past your name on their newsfeed because they realize there is value in every post.

Twitter: 3-8 times per day

Twitter is a different beast than Facebook. It’s more public (anyone can see your tweets) and tweets tend to be shorter and more conversational. Twitter is also a more common place for people to go to get information and content, as opposed to the more social platform that is Facebook. All this combines to make it beneficial to tweet more often.

Twitter and hashtag feeds fill up fast and your organization has to complete will thousands of other pieces of content that is flying past your target audience’s eyes. Tweeting more often helps get your content recognized. Tweeting 3-8 times per day also helps your organization cover a variety of different areas and issues that might appeal to your members, including relevant articles, photos, organization-specific news, industry updates and conversation starters. If you’re not providing value on Twitter, followers will often unfollow your account, as there are many other sources available. However, posting too much may push your connections to use the Mute button. Tweeting 3-8 times per day is often a happy medium.

Blogging: 3-8 times per month

A blog is like a newspaper, but more people with special interests. If you picked up the Saturday issue of the newspaper, expecting a nice, relaxing and informative read and instead saw last week’s articles, you might be a little ticked. The same is true of a blog.

Depending on your industry and the resources at your disposal, a blog should be updates at least once a week, or ideally 3-8 times per month for non-profits/associations. The purpose of a blog is to give your readers an engaging and informative forum to learn and get caught up on news, trends and tips. But it’s also a platform that establishes your organization as the “expert” in an industry and drives traffic to your website. If your blog is not being published consistently, people will lose faith in the “expert” moniker and will stop typing your website into the search bar, directing their valuable time to other sources.

Pinterest: N/A

Pinterest is a tricky platform to declare an exact range of frequency for your organization to post, but the situation can be viewed through two lenses; the goal of Pinterest is mainly to drive traffic to websites and the social network is similar to a combination of Twitter and blogs.

The first lens we’re viewing Pinterest through (the goals is to drive traffic), helps you determines the frequency with which to post original pins. Find out which websites or web pages you want to drive traffic to and post accordingly. For instance, if you are a Business Improvement Area (BIA) and want to highlight members, it might be a good idea to pin 2-3 times per day to cover different interests and drive traffic to your members’ pages. If you are an organization who is raising money for a cause, posting original pins 2-3 times per week may be good to keep interest high, but not reuse the same stories, stats or articles.

The second lens (Pinterest is a combo of Twitter and blogging) helps you decide how often to re-pin posts. Pinterest is very public and updates frequently (like Twitter), but is also a platform that encourages regular viewing of certain boards (like blogging). Make sure to pin enough (1-3 times per day) so that your content is fresh, engaging and relevant for loyal visitors.

YouTube: 1-4 times per month

YouTube is a platform that is often used together with other social media networks, which means that videos are usually seen on blogs, websites, Facebook or Twitter. This unique trait is part of the reason its frequency is 1-4 times per month.

YouTube can often be thought of as an addition to other platforms’ editorial plans. For example, one video showcasing a member/donor per week can be slotted into an organization’s Twitter calendar for a particular month. Since YouTube videos usually act as a supplement to other platforms for non-profits and associations, be careful not to overdue the frequency with which you post videos. Posting 1-4 times per month will keep videos in your content calendar and your YouTube channel from becoming stale.

Instagram: 1-4 times per day

Instagram is as close to a purely visual platform as you can get with the big social media networks. Pictures are treated differently than words, which is why the frequency of posting is higher for Instagram than most other platforms.

Pictures take less time to appreciate than words. Instagram’s “liking” process is also fairly quick (a tap on the screen means you’re a fan of the photo). These two elements add up to Instagram users checking and scrolling through posts at a fast and furious pace. To keep relevant, engaging and in front of people’s eyes, posting frequently to Instagram is a must for any association or non-profit who chooses to use this platform. A word of warning to any organizations thinking of using Instagram; don’t start an account if you don’t have a daily source of visual, because without this well to draw on, your followers will forget you pretty fast.

LinkedIn: 2-3 times per week

LinkedIn, like every other platform on this list, has a specific purpose that determines how frequently your organization should post on it. LinkedIn is an association’s dream platform as it fulfills a primary goal of an organization; offering professional development to members. If your association chooses to invest resources in LinkedIn, a frequent and consistent approach to posting should be taken.

LinkedIn offers an opportunity to appeal to the professional side of your connections. Posting articles, conversation points, job openings and similar content can be done multiple times a week to keep members engaged and give them a chance to get involved, learn or contribute to a discussion and keep up with the latest trends and techniques that allow them to do their job better. LinkedIn, much like a blog, will allow your organization to be known as an expert and a great forum to go to when someone wants to connect with like-minded individuals. If you are not consistent, the forum will go into disuse and lose all effectiveness, but posting too often may make people overwhelmed and unwilling to contribute. Posting 2-3 times per week should provide a great balance.

Other Things to Consider

Determining the frequency with which your organization should post on different social media sites is not an exact science, but it is a type of science. The advice in the paragraphs above is simply a guide. The best path for your organization to travel is to experiment with different frequencies of posting, collect the data, analyze it and see which strategy turns out the most favourable results.

You will also have to be flexible with your frequency of posting. The number of times you tweet or post to Facebook, Instagram, etc. will change depending on the exceptional circumstances of your non-profit/association. For instance, you will probably tweet more when your association is hosting its annual conference or if your charity is having a fundraising event.

The key to finding the best frequency with which to post is to stay organized, stay flexible and stay informed. Using these tools, you’ll social media platforms will go from good to great in no time.

5 Pieces of Twitter Advice for Non-profits and Associations in 140 characters

We could talk about Twitter and give you advice on how to use the platform until we’re blue in the face, but sometimes it’s better if you let the social media network do the talking. That’s why we’ve compiled five pieces of Twitter strategy for non-profits and associations and put them into 140-character posts.

On Hashtags and Building a Strong Community

Twitter Advice 1a

 

On Sharing Content

Twitter Advice 2

On Asking Questions

Twitter Advice 3

On Posting Media

Twitter Advice 4

On Showcasing Member Benefits

Twitter Advice 5

A Guide to 3 Twitter Stats Your Non-profit Might Not Know About

This past August was a month when social media stats nerds and data aficionados could rejoice; Twitter Analytics had become open to all!

The social media giant now allows any user to access reams of data that was previously only available if you had invested in Twitter Ads.

Twitter Analytics will allow associations and other non-profits to chart engagement, track success and calculate ROI better. Aside from the usual categories that you may use to measure engagement, such as retweets and favourites, there may be some unfamiliar terms within Twitter Analytics.  These terms, and the numbers behind them, will come in handy when plotting a strategy for the future of your social media efforts.

If you’re a little rusty of your Twitter shop-talk, here’s a short guide to some of the useful terms:

Impressions

What Is It: Impressions is the number of times unique users saw a certain tweet. Not every single one of your followers will see your tweet because, unfortunately, people are on Twitter at different times. This is the nature of a platform that is constantly updating and pushing older content out of the way to make room for new posts. Luckily, Twitter keeps track of the number of people who laid eyes on your tweets and gives you the number. Impressions count not only your followers, but also those who see your post through a retweet.

Why It Matters: Impressions show how broad your reach was with any given tweet and how much exposure your content is receiving. This is important on one basic level; it tells you if you’re posting in the right way. The more impressions you receive, the more likely it is that you are posting content that is relevant, informative and interesting to your target audience. It also means you are posting at the right times and on the right days.

Tracking impressions will also help you figure out if you need to give a certain piece of content more exposure. For example, if your tweet about an upcoming event received lower than average impressions, you may want to tweet the information out several more times in order to reach those who did not see the post the first time.

Engagement Rate

What Is It: The engagement rate is a ratio that illustrates the number of people who have engaged with a tweet (retweeted, favourites, clicked on a link or replied) compared to the number of people who saw the tweet. For example, if 50 people saw your tweet and three of those people engaged with it, the engagement rate would be 0.06. The numbers in the engagement rate category are typically to the right of the decimal, so don’t be alarmed if you see tiny numbers as it’s a product of the ratio system.

Why It Matters: The engagement rate is an extension of impressions and it can tell you much of the same information. High engagement rates usually mean the material you have posted is very interesting to your target demographic and is stimulating discussion or sharing. But the situation in which engagement rate becomes increasingly valuable is when calculating return on investment. Engagement rates (along with impressions) will help you measure which tweets are giving you more bang for your buck. The higher the engagement rate, the further your organization’s money is going and the more effectively it is being spent to raise awareness or add value.

 User Profile Clicks

What Is It: User profile clicks is the term used to describe how many times someone traveled to your organization’s Twitter profile from a specific tweet on their home feed or hashtag search. If the Twitter user ends up on your non-profit’s or association’s profile page by clicking on your username or handle, it counts as a user profile click

Why It Matters: A user profile click is someone saying, “I want to know more about your Twitter account and your organization.” It’s a significant piece of data to track because it will help you understand which tweets lead Twitter users to exploring your profile, being introduced to your brand, reading more content, following your account and directing themselves to your organization’s website.

User profile clicks are more than just an inevitable surface interaction, such as a polite favourite here and there; they represent a person who is actively getting to know your non-profit or association better through Twitter. Knowing which tweets lead to user profile clicks will help you discover which content is most engaging, which hashtags work best and will help give you a better overall sense of the your organizations ROI.

The Pros and Cons of Private Social Media Networks for Non-profits

Private social networks have been around for a while, but have recently become more popular with both brands and individuals. This growing trend in private communities has meant an uptick in the diversity of platforms and the features they offer.

This growth is definitely worth paying attention to if you’re in the non-profit and association world. These private platforms have untapped potential for organizations looking for any advantage they can in providing value to their communities. But with great reward comes great risk and there are many things to consider before jumping onto a private network.

So before your organization leaves its Twitter account or Facebook page for a newer, hotter platform, check out the pros and cons for starting a private social media network.

Pro: Private social networks protect the benefits of membership. The old saying, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free, is a main reason people might not be joining your association. If a non-member is able to get the same value as a member from your social media efforts, it only adds to this rationale. Having a members-only social network gives more incentive for non-members to join to get access. It also provides more value to existing members and makes them feel like part of an exclusive group.

Con: You can’t connect with people who aren’t members. The whole purpose of a private network is to restrict your audience to just those investing in your organization. This makes it pretty much impossible to use your private network to highlight or promote member benefits or your organization’s events to non-members. Having a loyal membership is amazing, but your organization may stagnate if you aren’t trying to bring new members into the fold.

Pro: Only people who are passionate about relevant topics will join, which will probably lead to great content quality. If your non-profit only allows those who are passionate about a cause or industry onto your private platform, the content you share, and is being shared by others, is going to be high-calibre. Everyone in the group benefits when the content is better and your organization gains a reputation of providing accessible, informative material for members.

Con: Your content may be better, but at what cost? Operating private networks, along with any other social media accounts your organization might operate, takes a greater commitment of time and money. Some of these networks also cost money to set up, especially if you build a custom platform. While the return may justify the investment for some non-profits and associations, not all organizations have the resources to find out.

Pro: The content you share on a private network can be more targeted. Your organization already has a group of people who are interested in your industry or cause by their very participation in your non-profit and in your private network. Reaching out to these people can be more targeted as you know their interests, passions and career arc. You may even receive more engagement, as there is a more personal feeling on private networks than other types of social media.

Con: It takes extra effort for your audience and yourself. Chances are, your audience is already on the “open” social networks, like Twitter and Facebook. Signing up for a private network, accessing it and checking it daily can turn into an unnecessary hassle. The same can be said for yourself. Not only do you need to take the time to create a great account, but you also have to promote the fact that this private community exists, which means more time and money without any guarantee of success.

Kinds of Private Online Communities

1. Private-Public Platforms

These are the platforms that most people know and love, such as Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs. These social networks are most often public, but also provide the option to make your account private. You have an invite only LinkedIn group, a locked Twitter account that filters followers and a blog that is only available through a members-only portion of your website.

2. Stand-alone Private Platforms

These are the social media networks that are built to house private communities. There are many of them, most geared toward specific uses, such as professional associations or even teachers and their classrooms. A few of the more popular ones include Path, 23Snaps and Everyme.

Traditional Media vs. Social Media: Which One Delivers More Upside to Non-profits

“We’ve always done it this way.”

That sentence is one of the fiercest enemies of progress and success, especially for non-profits. Unfortunately, when it comes to marketing and communications, many organizations miss out on some big opportunities to grow and thrive because they are hesitant to invest in social media at the expense of traditional media, such as direct mail, magazines, TV and newspaper.

Part of this reluctance to embrace social media is due to a lack of information. So what exactly is the difference between traditional and social media and what does it have to do with your non-profit? Take a look:

Viewership

The number of people who use social media has skyrocketed in the last few years and it keeps rising. The number of people who go to social media for their news has gone from 39% in 2012 to 50% in 2013. On the other hand, there’s a downward trend in the number of people who go to traditional media for their news. Newspaper has gone from 29% to 28% and radio has decreased from 33% to 23% between 2012 and 2013.

Times are changing and your organization should probably take note. You can reach more people with social media than ever before and its quickly rising past traditional media as the go-to source for news and interacting with the world.

Data Collection

You can painstakingly plan, create and execute a traditional media strategy, like a direct mailing campaign, but it’s extremely difficult and expensive to know how many people tell their friends about your organization because of it, how many people renew their membership because of it or even how many people really even take five seconds to look at it. The opposite is true with social media

Non-profits can extract reams of data from their social media efforts. From how many people are looking at your tweets to the number of people (and their age, gender, etc.) who are engaging with your Facebook post, social media has it all. You can use this data to make your organization better, provide more value to your community and grow your non-profit. The best part of social media data is that it’s cheap. There are, of course, expensive tools that chart the most minuscule patterns, but useful data can be gathered for free from various sources, especially since Twitter Analytics became accessible for everyone in August.

Engagement

Traditional media is a one-way conversation. You can put out an ad, an article or a testimonial in traditional media, but unless you gather your intended audience in a room or call them up on the phone, you’ll never know how they have reacted to it, if they have any questions or give them a chance to share it with their colleagues or friends.

Social media is different because it’s a two-way conversation. It allows your members or community to comment, reflect, share and further engage in any content you post. You can answer questions in a YouTube video comment section or encourage conversation on a Twitter post. Engaging your community increases value for your community and creates an environment of inclusiveness that makes people want to come back again and again.

Frequency and Timing

Time is often of the essence and social media understands that. You can post multiple times a day to various platforms to get your content out to your members or community. If something happens that suddenly that affects your members, you can take to social media to let them know. You can promote an initiative or event several times a week if you that’s your plan. The same cannot be said for traditional media.

There is a limited number of times you can publish material in traditional media and it takes time (not to mention money) to get in contact this way. There are are countless opportunities you can your members can miss because the timing of material in traditional media is even slightly off.

Control

Many people are worried that social media is actually just a different word for chaos and risk. This fear is uncalled for. The truth is, social media gives you more control over a message than traditional media. You can explain yourself on social media, delete or edit a post, offer apologies, control who you follow and who follows you and moderate comments on almost every platform there is.

Traditional media doesn’t offer you the same luxuries. Once you send it out, you can’t take it back, you can’t moderate it and you can’t chip in with your thoughts or follow-up. Taking control of your message and your future is easier with social media than with traditional media.

The Issues That Matter Most To Association Executives And How Social Media Can Help

The one issue that matters to association leaders, above all else, is lobbying and advocacy, according to a study by Association Adviser and Naylor LLC.

Informing the government, media and general public about an industry and its members mattered more to association leaders than any other duty, ahead of such topics as member news, industry best practices and networking, in the survey of 910 executives.

While the responses to the survey showed a wide range, all the top issues had one element in common; they can be addressed, in part, with a great social media strategy.

We took a look at the top five most important topics for association leaders and how social media can give each area a boost.

Lobbying and Advocacy

The Naylor reports explains the ascendancy of the issue of lobbying and advocacy like so, “…it’s because there’s a great deal of ‘misinformation—even fabricated information’ presented to legislators that it can easily turn into bad legislation. ‘This increases costs to consumers…'”

We detailed how social media can help the lobbying and advocacy efforts of associations a couple months ago, so we’ll highlight some of the key takeaways from the post that address how being social can help dispel myths and aid advocacy.

Social media platforms, like Twitter or Facebook, make it easier for your association to stay on top of all the latest news, trends and comments. Having a strong presence on these platforms allows your association to have a conversation about falsehoods or misinformation that may pop up online. Blogs, YouTube, Twitter and other platforms can also act a rallying point for members to join an advocacy campaign by your association and a place to shine the spotlight on member achievement where thousands of people are paying attention.

And when a city, a country or the world takes notice, so too, do politicians.

How-To/Best Practices

How-To/Best Practices came second on Naylor’s list, just slightly behind advocacy and lobbying. Just like the previous section, we’ve covered how social media can help you create and promote a how-to for members. Here are some of the finer points of our explanation:

Social media is a storyteller’s dream and that’s what a how-to is all about. If you can tell a great story, explaining how to go about an activity in the best way can be engaging for members. A video on YouTube or an infographic tacked onto Pinterest, a blog, Twitter or a website will give your members a visual to go along with your story.

Social media also provides members a place to ask questions about the how-to or interact with experts in the field who have published an article about best practices. Sometimes an article, video or explanation is not enough, but social media is there to save the day and give members the more in-depth knowledge they need and want. Host a Twitter chat, monitor the comments and plan a follow-up webinar to your how-to/best practices posts.

Industry News/Trends

There’s no denying it; people go online to get most of their news now-in-days. Your association’s members are no exception.

Being online and on social media will help your association connect members to the news and trends that will benefit them in their profession. Like we mentioned earlier, social media is a great way to keep tuned to all the latest news on a particular industry, particularly with tools such as Paper.li and hashtag monitoring. Spreading the word to members takes an engaging tweet and a little digging on which articles are the most timely and helpful.

News comes in all shapes and sizes and so does social media, which makes it a match made in heaven. You can write a blog for more a more in-depth look at news or to promote the latest technological trends, for example, or take to Instagram to document the latest about association programs, services and events in bite-sized chunks. Promoting your association’s magazine or newsletter on social media allows a much wider audience to find value in your organization’s services and makes them more likely to invest in the association in the form of membership.

Career/Professional Development

Think of the career development resources your association offers members and you can probably come up with at least a handful of examples before you finish reading this sentence. Most of them can be promoted and made more accessible through social media.

Events are a hub of learning for members and social media can add a tremendous amount to any conference, meeting or webinar, such as live-tweeting, daily recap blog posts and YouTube interviews with speakers. We’ve also detailed, at length, the newest form of education and career development taking off right now called Meetup and how it could help your association and its members.

Other programs, such as a mentorship initiatives, accreditation courses and awards programs, lend themselves beautifully to the kind of storytelling social media does so well. Tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos and infographics can capture success stories and can make people in the industry aware of the programs when they might otherwise not have known they existed.

Statistics and Data That Help Them Do Their Job Better

Social media is a goldmine of helpful stats and data that help both association leaders and association members do their job better.

Social media provides a wealth of information about an association’s members and non-members and recent developments have made it even easier to access this data. Twitter analytics became open to all Twitter users in the last month and the data to be gleaned from the available numbers could be a game-changer for association leaders. Executives can now measure which issues get the most engagement, which trends members are paying attention to most and what topics are receiving the best response from the general public. And the best part is that it’s free! There are not many resources that are better than Twitter analytics for conducting research into the behaviour, wants and needs of membership.

As for relaying the stats and facts that members want to see, well, we’ll just leave this right here. It about sums up the giant role of social media in presenting the relevant facts to the right audience.

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The most important issues for association leadership are constantly changing, but what will continue to stay the same is social media’s ability to lend a helping. From advocacy to statistics, social networking platforms can bridge the gap between problems and solutions in a cheap, effective way for many an association executive.

 

Building a Content Calendar for your Non-profit or Association

A content calendar is essential to successfully managing an organization’s social media platforms. A content calendar is a day-by-day, week-by-week or month-by-month schedule detailing the type of content you will be posting on social media.

A content calendar is a lot of things, but its main draw is that it keeps you focused, efficient and effective. A content calendar keeps you focused on the articles, issues, programs and announcements that are most relevant to your community. A calendar helps you to be more efficient so you’re not sitting at your desk for hours every day thinking of content to post about. A calendar also helps you monitor which topics are most popular as well as which posts are most engaging.

Below, you can find an example of the seven most common forms of content that a non-profit might tweet about and an example of how thee types of content might fit into a weekly calendar. But before you check that out, here are a few ground rules to remember when creating your own content calendar:

Ground Rules

- Don’t marry your content calendar. Be flexible. If breaking news affects your organization’s community, make room in your calendar for a post about it. If a member does something worth noting on a particular day, recognize it, even if it’s not in your original plans.

- Keep track of its effectiveness. Once you have a calendar in place, keep an eye out for which topics, which days and which times get better engagement. Tailor your calendar to this data and, once again, be ready to be flexible.

- Consult colleagues and members when building your content calendar. Ask them if there are any issues that you should focus on or if there are any members doing anything notable in the near future.

The Seven Types of Non-profit Content and How to Fit Them Into Your Twitter Content Calendar

*This content calendar is based on 17 tweets per week (three per weekday and one each on Saturday and Sunday).

Recognition

Recognizing members is crucial to your organization’s success. After all, helping members succeed is what your organization is all about, isn’t it? Show your members you care and show the world that your members achieve great things by frequently recognizing your members.

Recognition Calendar

Events

Twitter is a great platform to promote your organization’s events, whether it’s a fundraiser, a conference or a networking meet up. A content calendar will help you organize your thoughts on the event, remind your members without annoying them and target different demographics by generating fresh perspectives.

Event Promotion Calendar

Organizational Promotions

Your organization probably has a whole lot of programs, initiatives and benefits you want your members to take advantage of. Tweeting about them is a great way to not only let people know about these initiatives, but also how your community can access them and benefit from them. Highlighting these promotions in your content calendar helps you pinpoint the right promotion to showcase, at the right time, in the right way.

Organizational Promotion Calendar

Media

When we say media, we mean pictures, videos, infographics and the like. Visuals have been shown to help boost engagement and can be added to a tweet about an event, a how-to or member recognition to give it more oomph. Sometimes media takes a while to source, as you may have to comb through several resources, like followers who are members or YouTube, to find a perfect fit. That’s why scheduling media will help you save time and still be aces online.

Media Calendar

Original Content

Original content is content that your association or non-profit has created itself and is not from another source, such as an organization’s blog, an open letter from the president, a newsletter, etc. Original content is absolutely crucial to engaging your community and getting the most out of social media. Original content drives traffic to the website, gets people talking and shows your organization in action. Developing the right timing for posting original content is part a great social media strategy, which why a content calendar can be your best friend.

Original Content Calendar

Industry News

Sparking engagement and creating value for members is all about providing relevant content that will be useful to your organization’s community. Tweeting about the latest news, trends and techniques in your association’s industry will definitely help you stay relevant and valuable to followers. Finding the most relevant material and fitting it into your content calendar ensures that your members receive the most timely news from the best sources without overloading them with information.

Industry News Calendar

Fun Stuff

You’re organization’s Twitter account is informative, engaging, promotional and helpful, but it has to let its hair down once in a while. Your members will appreciate some fun, relaxed, but still relevant content on your Twitter account every so often. Show your members they can have fun by following your account; it could lead to a lot more loyal followers and increased engagement.

Fun Stuff Calendar

And there you have it, a complete week’s worth of content all mapped out!

Remember, a content calendar is important to effective, efficient tweeting, but also remember to have some fun with it and be ready to change things up if current events drop from out of the blue.