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.

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.

Which Stats Really Matter to Your Non-profit’s Social Media Community

Class is back in session after the summer break and while the members of your organization’s community have probably swapped lockers and backpacks for offices and briefcases, they still have a desire to learn.

Education is one of the biggest reasons why people join an organization. Access to specialized information was the number two reason people joined associations in 2013 and education came in at number 5, according to a study by Greenfield Services.

Your community wants to know about the latest trends in the industry to further their careers or how to initiate change to address a certain social issue. Social media is a prime channel for your organization to provide its community with this information, but it’s crucial to know which facts and figures will benefit members the most and which ones are just fluff.

Here are four stats that your community will want to know about and tips for doing it through social media:

Salary Survey Stats

Many associations conduct a salary or compensation survey to track the industry environment and professional development of their members. The stats that come from these reports usually include average salary, benefits packages and vacation pay. The survey usually includes comparisons with past years, geographical locations and sizes of the organizations where members work.

The data that is collected from these surveys are definitely what your members want to see and your association wants to share. Salary surveys tell members how they are perceived by employers and what their value is to an operation. It also provides a glimpse of what the association is doing to increase awareness of the role of members in an industry and their importance in that industry. Both these things go a long way to improving the professional lives of members and growing support for your association.

The Road from your Pocket to Impact

When a donor contributes to a cause, they want to know where their money is going and how it gets there. A good non-profit knows how to be accountable and showing these types of stats will help your organization stay transparent, trustworthy and engaging.

To give your donors a vision of how their money is spent and how it makes an impact, illustrate where every cent of a donated dollar goes, if possible. Track it from the pockets of your donors to the organization, to the travel and finally to the person, people or project that it was sent to. Track stats that quantifies the donation, such as one quarter equals one brick. Don’t forget to tell stories that take the numbers and make them personal. Your donors will appreciate knowing where their money goes and will feel like they have been on a journey with your organization.

Member Benefit Advantages

Almost every association offers tangible, financial member benefits from discounts on events, access to exclusive articles, insurance breaks, cuts on travel expenses and the like. And almost every professional in your industry knows about these benefits. What they may not know is how it affects their lives. This is where the stats come in.

Simply telling members and potential members that they will save money in their professional and personal lives by joining your association is not enough. You can’t just answer the question, “How?” but also “By how much?” Calculate the costs your members could save by taking advantage of programs. Present the data separately or all at once to show how much of a difference it could make in a year. Some benefits of an association aren’t quantifiable, but for those that are, exposing them to your members is a must.

The Problem and How to Solve it

Not every problem is in your face and out in the open. That’s part of the reason your organization needs a communications team; to increase awareness of an issue and encourage people to join in an effort to solve the problem.

But people want to know more than that. They want to know how big a problem is, who it’s affecting and how it can get better. Stats are a great way to let people know the scope of an issue and how it is or could affect them. Facts and figures on solving the problem, such as how many supplies your financial contribution equals or how many hours it takes to build a facility, act as a call to action. These statistics empower people to not just know about the issue, but act on it as well.

How to Serve Your Stats on a Social Media Platter

We have one word for you: infographics.

Infographics are a great way to present information in an engaging and visually appealing way to your organization’s community. Not only are they great to have as a blog post or as a supplement to one, they can also be tacked onto a tweet, made into a pin on Pinterest or added to a Facebook post or album. Visuals rule right now and there is no better way to capture your audience’s attention, and participation, like an infographic.

Which Stats are Best #1

An example of using stats to appeal to an association’s potential members

 

Which Stats are Best #2

An example of using stats to appeal to potential donors.

Remember, stats aren’t everything. People want to see a human side of your organization. Combining the statistics we’ve talked about in this post with one or more stories of how it has affected a real human, whether it’s a staff member, donor, member, etc., is a potent way to use social media, strive towards your goals and encourage others to join you on that path.

Hot or Not: Answers to Social Media FAQs for Non-profits

There are a few frequently asked questions we receive when we talk to non-profit or association executives about social media platforms. But instead of just explaining the ins and outs of each question, we’ve gathered five of them and enlisted the help of the fashion magazine staple; hot or not. Here they are:

Responding to Retweets and Favourites: Room Temperature

We’re going to walk the line between hot and not for this first one because there really is no right answer. Many people give a small shout out to those who retweet or favourite a post from your organization. It’s definitely a nice touch, but it’s not 100 per cent necessary.

While it’s not improper etiquette to just let these interactions be, it doesn’t take a whole lot of extra effort to write, “Thank you for retweeting us! Glad you like the article/tweet/question. Let us know if you have any other feedback,” or something like that. Who knows, it could even start a nice conversation that might lead to a very happy member, donor, sponsor or volunteer!

Posting Every Two to Three Days on Facebook: Hot

Social media is a fickle beast. Some platforms, like Twitter and Instagram, want you to pay attention to them every single day. Others, like Facebook, are okay with having your attention every other day.

While it’s definitely important to check Facebook several times a day to monitor discussions and track statistics, it isn’t at all necessary to post a status every day. Actually, it can grow quite tiresome for some people to see content from an organization clogging their newsfeed, even if it’s from a non-profit or association they care about.

Save your best content for Facebook so people aren’t skipping by your posts that are only there because you thought you should post every day. Make it fun, engaging and worthwhile. Of course, if something is happening, say a big event or a breaking news story that affects your community, it’s okay to post something two days in a row. It’s all about measuring the content’s relevancy and timeliness to your audience. Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing!

Having a LinkedIn Company Page Instead of a LinkedIn Group: Not

This is actually a bit of a trick question, or rather a trick answer. You shouldn’t be deciding if it’s one or the other, you should be creating both. A company (or ‘Organization’) page is great and has many benefits. Your organization can share news, company information and helpful pieces of content, like blog posts, through company pages.

Groups, on the other hand, can be thought of as a place for individuals to have conversations. While your organization can’t run groups, you can as a representative of your non-profit or association. Groups are a great way to get discussion going and be more inclusive. They often have a broader focus, such as issues affecting a certain industry or issue, and encourage those who may not be connected to your organization yet to participate. From there, the participants are only a few steps away from engaging with your organization.

Using ROI Stats to Justify Your Social Media Efforts: Not

Using social media these days is the equivalent of being in the phone book back in the 1980s; if you’re not investing in a spot, than you’re not going to get noticed. It’s no longer a matter of if you should be on social media, but how.

Many people, mostly skeptics, will point to hard-to-come-by statistics on the financial return on investment for social media, but the benefits of social media don’t always come with a dollar amount attached to them. Rather, social media should be looked at a means to engage and communicate with your community, providing them with service and value in order to encourage them to invest time, money or interest in your non-profit.

You’ll likely never get a phone call from someone saying they joined your association or donated to your cause because of a tweet they saw or pin they liked, but exposure to consistently great content, over time, will cast your organization as an expert that prides itself on communication, transparency and hard work to achieve a goal for members. This should be the real gauge of how well your social media efforts are doing.

Encouraging Offline Events Through Online Platforms: Hot

Online and offline efforts are not in competition with each other. It is not social media’s intent to destroy face-to-face interaction and it’s not the tradition meeting’s aim to shout down Twitter, Facebook and the like. They actually complement each other quite well.

For example, if you develop a strong Twitter following, try organizing a tweetup at your next conference or fundraising drive. A tweetup takes the best of the old school and the new school and combines them into a great networking and learning opportunity.

We’ve mentioned before in this blog that the social networking platform Meetup is a great way to promote face-to-face small group continuing education online. It lets people connect who may not have ever connected before and plan a localized event that they find immense value in. Tying you organization to one of these events will only endear you further to your members or community.