Could Your Nonprofit's Communication Strategy Benefit from a Social Media Scheduling Tool?

If you want your organization to look “legit,” then it’s necessary to have a presence online. It could be through a website, social media, or a combination of the two.

Nonprofit organizations seem to be on board with this. Almost every nonprofit organization we’ve encountered—even tiny ones in remote parts of the world—seem to have at least a Facebook page, if not multiple social media accounts and a website. At the same time, we’ve also noticed that many of the Facebook pages and other social media accounts appear to be inactive.

Creating an online presence can begin with signing up for a site and social media accounts, but it’s not enough to open the accounts and reserve a domain name. An online presence develops as the accounts are regularly populated with updated information. Of course, this is easier said than done. Consistent posting is not easy.  However, if you want to use your website and social media accounts to attract donors and volunteer support, it’s essential to keep your website updated and your social accounts current.

If your organization does not regularly post to its social media accounts or website, one outcome is that no one will know about the good work your organization is doing. A second outcome, perhaps more worrisome from a fundraising perspective, is that potential donors may wonder whether your organization is still active.

If your organization struggles to maintain its presence on social media, a social media scheduling tool may be the solution to help you post more regularly and with less effort.

Social media scheduling tools allow users to plan their posts and publish them on multiple social accounts. That’s their primary offering. Every scheduling tool also offers additional functionality. Depending on the tool, you also might have the ability to collaborate with others, upload media, view mockups of posts, receive detailed analytics, and engage with followers, among other features. 

When Is a Social Media Scheduling Tool Helpful?

A social media scheduler is particularly handy if you:

1. Manage Multiple Accounts: If you manage multiple social media accounts—personal, professional, or a combination of the two—a social media scheduler will be very helpful. The advantage of using a social media scheduler is that you can manage all of your accounts from a single platform, which is far more efficient than having to log in to each account separately to post updates.

2. Share Responsibility: If you share the responsibility of posting to social media with coworkers, a social media scheduler makes it much easier to collaborate. With many social media scheduling tools, such as Hootsuite and Loomly, you can invite others to comment on and edit draft posts. You can also create a workflow that allows everyone to see which posts are in development, which are pending approval, and which ones are approved and ready for publishing. If you and your colleagues are often unclear about the status of a planned social media post or campaign, a social media scheduler will end the confusion! 

3. Use Dashboards: If you like the idea of having a central hub where you can see all of your social media activity at a glance, scheduling tools are for you.  Scheduling tools have dashboards that enable you to view your posting activity (published and planned posts) across all social media accounts. Depending on the tool you use, you can see your activity in a list or calendar view. Another advantage of using a scheduler is that many services, such as Loomly, allow you to open a post from your dashboard, copy it, reformat it, and publish it to a different social media account (e.g., from your dashboard, you can open a Facebook post, duplicate it, and reformat it for publishing on Pinterest).

4. Archive Past Posts: If you like to store past posts so you can periodically review them and bring older posts back into circulation, a scheduling tool is one of the easiest ways to do this. All of the popular scheduling tools allow you access to your posting history and give you an easy way to republish an older post, either to the same social account or to a different one. 

Social media schedulers are ideal if you’re a member of a team or have multiple social accounts. However, they can also be useful if you intend to scale your operations. If you plan to increase your social media presence by adding accounts or by increasing your posting frequency—or if you want volunteer staff to help you post to your accounts—then a social media scheduling tool is worth considering. Increasing users, increasing posting frequency, increasing the number of social accounts...basically, any expansion of your current use of social media is a reason to invest in a scheduling tool.

Comparison of Three Social Media Scheduling Tools: Buffer, Hootsuite, and Loomly

The table below summarizes the price points and key features of Buffer, Hootsuite, and Loomly. While there are many scheduling tools on the market, these three stand out because of the breadth of services included with their basic subscription plan, which for all three is quite affordable. Buffer, Hootsuite, and Loomly all offer standard plans in the $12 - $19/mo. price range for a single user. In addition, Buffer has a free basic account, and Buffer, Hootsuite, and Loomly all offer a 50% nonprofit discount.

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Which Tool Is for You?

If cost is your greatest concern, you could go with Buffer’s free plan. Buffer is an excellent, all-around service and may fit your needs perfectly if you’re primarily seeking an easier way to publish to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn. If you choose Buffer’s free plan, note that the features are limited and you will not be able to schedule more than 10 posts at a time to each social account. 

For paid plans, with or without the nonprofit discount, Loomly offers the best deal for individual users and teams. Loomly is also a good choice if you want a tool that makes it easy to collaborate with others and see mockups of your posts.

Hootsuite, the most expensive service, may be worth exploring if you want the option to publish to your Wordpress blog from your social media manager.

In addition to their features and price point, another—mostly subjective—factor to consider is the user interface. If a tool has all the functionality you want but it’s difficult to master, you probably won’t use it. We haven’t tried Buffer or Hootsuite recently enough to be able to comment on their ease of use. We can vouch for Loomly on this score. We are currently testing Loomly and have found its dashboard uncluttered, easy to navigate, and visually pleasing.

The best way to determine if a scheduling tool meets your needs is to give it a test run. All of the social media scheduling tools we’ve looked at, including the ones above, offer at least a 14-day trial period.

Update Your Communication Plan

A scheduling tool will make it easier for you to manage more accounts and post more frequently. If you decide to incorporate a scheduling tool into your workflows, you may need to update your communication plan to reflect your expanded social media use and new goals. If you don’t have a communication plan already in place, subscribing to a social media scheduler creates the perfect opportunity to develop one!

If you want more information on social media tools or tips on developing a communication strategy, check out the post Improve Your Chances of Getting Grant Funding: Create a Communications Strategy and the resource list below.

Additional Resources