Social Media Tool Tips for Non-Profits

Here’s a short GIANT list of my favorite tools, tips, tactics and techniques I use to ensure my social media messaging sees the most Oomph for the effort.

(This is a supplement to the short panel discussion I’ll be participating in later today at Hootsuite. Which is, of course, one of my favorite foolproof tools for managing my world. More on that later.)

One of the big questions we’ll be addressing is: How can Non-Profit Organizations use social media tools effectively on a limited budget?

I’m a huge fan of matching great creative with timely metrics that tell the true tale of how well your ‘next ice bucket challenge’ is faring out there.

Here’s a quick campaign outline to find out how it’s going for you, before your time and tiny budget have gone in the wrong¬†direction.


Plan it, Janet.

a) Understand your Objective.
Example: I want people to donate to my ‘Save the Puppehs campaign, because it needs more funding to survive the next year’.

b) Understand your Goals
Example: I need about 40 people to donate $100, or a combination that results in $4000 to fund this program. My goal is to raise $4000.

c) Understand your Limits
Example: I have $0-100 to do this, and I have 30 days to issue receipts for donations. I need time to test my best message, and decide where to throw my resources for my final push.

Yay! You now have a Timeline!

  • Create an Editorial Calendar so you know how many messages you can realistically send in the time you have. Give yourself 1/4 of your total time to A/B test the message that’s going to get you to your goal.
  • Use a spreadsheet if you wish (or even Notepad) to manage your Editorial Calendar. You’ll be glad you did. I’ve created an Example Workbook to check out. Take it, use it, hack it.
  • Be sure to add any holidays, related events, or other hurdles and opportunities to this calendar. It’s important to know if you can get your message into the conversation on National Puppeh Day.


The fun bit: Creative!

Image resources:

Need adorable Puppeh pictures to really boost shareability in this Cheezburger world? I highly recommend using FREE Creative Commons licensed content wherever possible.

Flickr has an entire searchable archive of Photos that have been licensed for non-commercial use. If you are a non-profit, that’s probably you. Be sure to follow the attribution requirements, like a good digital citizen.

Google Images also has a decent range of images that are searchable using the filters listed under Search Tools > Usage Rights.  Some imagery is labeled improperly, so use your judgement and when in doubt, go without.
Google Puppies Image Search

Also, remember to document your own work, and to ask for submissions from the people you work with or who have been affected by your work. So many people in your community would be happy to help support your goals, and you already know some of them!

Writing process:

I find that this is often the hardest part. Here’s a few useful tips I’ve learned over the years:

  • Write 25 versions of the same thing. It sounds like a ton of work, but it boosts your output in ways you wouldn’t expect as you adapt and monitor your campaign.
  • Write 130 character tweets so that nothing gets lost when your message is shared. Use a tool like Letter Count to make this easier.
  • Lead with what you want someone to do at the beginning of your Facebook message. ‘We need your support to save the Puppehs’ is always better than ‘Do you even like Puppehs? Read on…’
  • Look at hashtags BEFOREHAND and if it looks popular, be certain you understand why. A little extra preparation can save you from disaster.
  • Have someone else look at your work before you send it. Never do creative alone!


Connect the Dots

It’s all about A/B testing, which might seem out of reach for a small non-profit at first glance. All you need to do to be effective is to connect the dots between your message and your goals. Then do more of that. Then double down.

Here’s my FREE-style recipe for tracking efficacy from social to success:

  • Set up Google Analytics for your website, Tumblr, or WordPress blog. This is the best way to learn how well your social media messaging is performing. You’ll soon become addicted to checking the Acquisition section to discover how many people are following your links from social media over to your website donation page.
  • Source your Links using Google’s URL builder. This allows you to add extra information to your links (such as social media channels like Twitter or Facebook and campaign names – like Test A and Test B!)
  • Choose some messages to test, name each one Test A, B, C etc and schedule them to publish to your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr or LinkedIn using Hootsuite. Track them in Google Analytics to see which performed the best.
  • Hootsuite has a set of free reports that show you your most popular tweets and posts – well worth a look if you are short on time and staff. Look for your most popular material, and revise and repost those.
  • You can also use Hootsuite to track your custom #PuppehSavers hashtag in an Archive. This list is exportable to a spreadsheet and you can use that to locate individuals to follow up with in the last days of your campaign.

Yay! You now have Metrics!

You’re halfway there! It’s time to make some decisions on how to boost and amplify your message.


Rock as loud as you can

It can be hard to yell into a social media chasm and hope that the people you need to reach will hear you, at the exact time you are asking. On the flip side – if you push too hard, you risk alienating your loyal followers. What to do?

Much in the same way that many people say that social media is like attending a social event in real life, you’ll have to figure out who is the best person to hear your message and go up to them and make that ask.

Here’s a few tips and tricks to help you find your evangelists and signal boosters:

  • Use Simply Measured‘s one-time only FREE analysis tools to gain a good overview of who follows you, who they know, how influential they are and whom you should be reaching out to with requests to share your message.
  • Ask your followers to share the message with their networks, and make it easy to do so with attractive graphics that carry messaging, shareable tweets and posts that are positive and have clear calls to action.
  • Once you know which messages are working, put a little paid boost into it. Twitter Ads allow you to make the most of a small budget by giving you tons of options in how you target your message. By location, by related hashtags, to people with the biggest follower list, even by targeting people similar to your biggest funders. Look into your email for those $50 freebie coupons from Twitter and get them to work for you.

My last suggestion is maybe the best one – make some Partners.

Your peers are there to to help you spread your message, to encourage giving in our communities, and to share the wealth – even though it maybe seems odd when we know the pool for giving can be so hard to tap into.

When we help each other, the entire sector sees the benefit of more people activated, sharing their experiences and enjoying the feeling of giving back. To the Puppehs, and to each other.

Hope this helped you get off the ground – happy to answer any questions you may have.

You can find me online at @ModReplica and Tweeting and Facebooking for Canada’s largest Community Foundation, Vancouver Foundation.