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How to Manage Social Media for Your Nonprofit

Tools to Help You Cope

By

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Social media is everywhere. There is nowhere to hide. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can feel a little overwhelmed. If you look at my computer some days I have so many tabs open in my browser I don’t even know what I’m looking at anymore.

Luckily, there are a few tools that can help us manage our presence on social media sites. In this article we are going to talk about a few of them and go over the pros and cons of each one to help you figure out which one is best for you when it comes to monitoring and publishing to various social networks.

Native Apps

Native applications reside within social networking websites. There are quite a few management tools on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

On Facebook, you can choose the Activity Log from the Admin Panel of your organization’s page. This lays out each post and lets you know if it was liked or commented on. It is a nice way to see everything at once. Also, make sure you check your notifications, messages, and wall posts to see if anyone mentioned you recently.

One of the most powerful tools on Twitter is the search function. It allows users to type in a search term and then save it to refer back to later. For example, I would search for the name of an organization or issue close to your mission to see what people are saying. These search results are updated in real time, so you’ll want to make sure you give it a quick glance and favorite any tweets you think you’d like to follow up on.

Also on Twitter, make sure you click on the connect tab to see who has replied to one of your tweets or mentioned you recently. You can also set up emails to be sent to you when you are mentioned or if one of your tweets is favorited or retweeted. This can help you get a handle on what people are saying.

LinkedIn allows you to search by people, companies, jobs, groups etc. While it doesn’t allow you to save your search results, I would spend some time searching each of these categories just to see what pops up. Make sure you also check your inbox on LinkedIn to see who has tried to connect with you lately.

Google+ is backed by the most popular and powerful search engine out there today. All you have to do is search in the search box and see what posts pop up. Like Twitter, Google+ allows you to save your search so you can go back to it later. It is also updated in real time. The notification system in Google+ is hard to miss as it is a large red number on the top right side of your screen. Check here to see who has started conversations, mentioned you, +1’ed a post or added you to their circles.

Pros:

  • Using native apps guarantees that things are going to work on that social network. There’s no second guessing.
  • Using websites directly allow you be updated with all of the latest features of the site. Sometimes you can miss things if you are using a third party application to manage your social media.

Cons:

  • Switching between lots of tabs. There are so many social networks out there with a new one popping up every day. It can be clumsy and difficult to keep an eye on all of them at the same time in your web browser.
  • You might be missing out on additional features. Some third party applications add features, such as scheduling posts, to your social media sites that are not currently available natively.

Third Party Apps

Hootsuite

Now, I just covered four of the major social media networks above. As you know there are many more out there. Third party applications are designed by various companies and can consolidate the activity of several social networks within one dashboard. Using a tool such as Hootsuite, for instance, can help bring together all the social conversations your organization is doing on social media into one place.

Hootsuite is a tool that can be run in your browser or be downloaded onto your computer. It allows you to monitor multiple twitter accounts and Facebook pages along with Foursquare, LinkedIn, Wordpress, and MySpace. The feed for each service gets its own tab where you can keep an eye on everything.

Pros:

  • You can see multiple networks at once.
  • Saved searches show up in their own column making them easy to reference later. Saved searches can be powerful when it comes to keeping track of what is being said on the internet about your organization or issues surrounding your mission.
  • Sets up in minutes and is easy to use.
  • You can schedule your posts across all platforms. This can be a great time saver when it comes to planning out your social media posts throughout the week or preparing for a vacation.

Cons:

  • Not all of the features are free. The most important one not included is having multiple users. This can be important when the person who handles your social media goes on vacation or if your social media presence grows large enough that you need two sets of eyes on things.
  • All photos are posted in a “Hootsuite Photos” photo album. While this might not seem like a big deal, some organizations have albums that are updated as new things come up.

TweetDeck is another social media manager with similar features to Hootsuite.

Sprout Social

Now if you are willing to pay for a powerful social media manager, Sprout Social would be one to consider. Not only can you see all of your social media networks in one place, Sprout Social adds a few other features that help you coordinate your social media presence online.

One thing that Sprout does a great job with is tracking conversations with the people you interact with on these sites. Each conversation is tracked and can be assigned to different team members based on the topic. While monitoring social media might be one person’s job, responding to questions or ideas can be shared with your whole team.

Sprout also does a great job with analytics. It can measure how effective your messages are to help you plan out what types of messages you should be sending. Sprout can also create professional looking reports that can be shared with team members at planning meetings.

Pros:

  • The most dynamic social media manager mentioned. Lots of features that can help you manage a team to manage your social media.
  • Analytics are included to help you improve on your social media strategy.
  • Conversations can be delegated to other team members to get the best answer to questions.
  • Sprout has a mobile application which can make it easy to post to and monitor networks on the go.

Cons:

  • Price. Starting at $39/mo, Sprout Social might not fit into your social media budget. However, they do mention non-profit pricing on their website.
  • Like Hootsuite, you cannot post photos to specific albums. All photos go into a Sprout Social album.

As social media continues to grow, so will your choices when it comes to social media managers. Take the time to figure out which features are most important to you and your team and find the one that works best for you.

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