If you want to see returns from your social media efforts, winging a strategy and posting whenever you remember is not the approach to take. Managing multiple social accounts? Have a (much too) long list of responsibilities outside of social media? Save time with a social media calendar that can keep you organized and on track as well as simplify things in a big way.
According to the Global NGO Tech Report, 48% of nonprofits in the US and Canada utilize an editorial calendar for social media campaigns. And 90% of nonprofits worldwide regularly use social media to engage their supporters and donors.
Follow their lead and streamline your approach to social media with a social media calendar.
What is a Social Media Calendar?
A social media calendar allows you to plan social media posts in advance. It’ll help you plan when to share content, as well as what to share when you do. It’s especially helpful for promoting blog posts, fundraising or awareness campaigns, and big events. You can plan ahead as little as a week or months in advance.
What should it include?
Social media calendars are typically formatted as a spreadsheet or document that includes the details for each post:
- Social media channel, like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter
- Post content or description
- Web page to link
- Link to the image file
- Date and time to publish
Nonprofit social media calendars are especially helpful for those who need approval for certain social media posts or those who are constantly sent notes on what to post about. “Can’t you just post this now?” Tell them to add it to the calendar.
Download the Social Media Calendar Template
You could create a spreadsheet based on the information we noted for you above, or you can just download ours. Customize it to fit your nonprofit and add any upcoming campaigns you’re planning to promote on social media.
Build Out Your Social Media Calendar
Now that you’ve created a social media calendar, build it out with ideas for the next few weeks of social media posts, following your current schedule for each channel.
Determine a schedule and stick to it
Don’t have a schedule? Now is a great time to plan how often and when you’ll post on each social media channel you use. Staying consistent and keeping up your presence in supporters’ feeds is key to an effective social media strategy.
Vary your content
All of your posts cannot be about fundraising, nor should you shy away from promoting that year-end fundraising campaign. Instead, strike a balance among (to name just a few):
- Campaign promotions
- Upcoming events
- Stories of impact
- Testimonials from your community
- Summaries or teasers of recent blog posts
- Posts that demonstrate your nonprofit’s internal culture
- Posts that highlight staff or volunteers
- Commentaries on current events or culture (including memes and gifs!)
- Links to useful resources that your audience might enjoy or share
A social media calendar is a way to check yourself and prevent your followers from losing interest or associating you with only one thing. We know that you’re a multi-faceted bunch with lots going on. Let your followers know as well. Not sure what to post? Add these ten ideas to your calendar to start.
Campaigns in a social media calendar
Don’t throw out your general social media strategy whenever a new fundraising or awareness campaign comes along. Instead, fit it into your strategy. It’s okay to post more often during this time to allow for varying content.
As with your general social media strategy, at the start of your campaign:
- Plan how many posts per week and on what channels
- Have a plan for visuals
- Remember to ramp things up at the end
Add it all to the calendar! Remember to vary the content of each post to make sure you’re not talking about the campaign in the exact same way each time you post.
Using the Calendar
The whole point of a social media calendar is to use it on a regular basis to post on your channels consistently and strategically. At the start of each week (or month, or day), take your social media calendar and use the content within it to schedule upcoming posts. With everything handy, you should see that process speeding up a decent amount.
We like using social media scheduling tools, like Hootsuite or Buffer, to schedule a round of posts in advance so we can move on to other nonprofit marketing priorities. As the manager of Wired Impact’s social channels, I begin each and every weekday checking our accounts and scheduling out the next day of posts based on our internal calendar, campaigns and strategy.
Keeping It Up to Date
Unfortunately the work here is never done. In order for your social media calendar to effectively do its job, you’ll need to update and add to it regularly.
Assign a point person
Aside from giving your team access to the calendar to add promotional posts relevant to their work, it’s also helpful to have one person that’s responsible for the social media calendar. Since you’re creating it, let’s assume that’s you.
Add it to current processes
To make sure this happens, we’d recommend adding it to your standard processes for a variety of marketing tasks you’re already doing. Encourage collaboration on the social front by giving other team members access to the calendar as well. (You can always go back and finesse what you need to before posting.)
- Posting on the blog? Add it to the social media calendar at the same time.
- Scheduling an email? Think about a corresponding social post.
- Pulling together a campaign strategy? Make a note in the social media calendar.
- Planning an upcoming event? You get the picture.
Revisit the calendar on a regular basis to ensure a good balance and that you’re peppering in those non-promotional posts to build stronger, more positive relationships with your followers.
Moving to a social media calendar is a natural next step as your responsibilities and marketing program grow. As more and more campaigns and promotional content gets thrown your way, you’ll be thankful for a central place to collect input from your team, organize your strategy in an actionable way and plan key posts in advance.
Is your nonprofit one of the 48% that uses a social media calendar to streamline your accounts and strategy? What tips can you offer to get nonprofit marketers in the habit of actually using it? Let’s swap stories and advice in the comments.