As an Advancement professional, whether you’re thinking about jumping into social media for the first time or you’ve been doing it for a while, chances are you have many other equally important things to do. Being effective and efficient with your time on social media is vital. But how do you accomplish this?
Your work in social media can be broken down into two main tasks: 1) content creation, and 2) the administrative work that supports content creation. Let’s focus on the latter (I’ll comment on the former in a subsequent post).
Here are three tools you can begin using to be more efficient with the administrative work that supports your social media content creation.
- Schedule your messages in advance. While your social media followers expect you to provide relevant and timely messaging, there is plenty of engaging content that can be created and scheduled in batch-mode ahead of time. Among these tools, the most popular are Hootsuite, Buffer, Edgar, and AgoraPulse. All have free options so you can try them at no cost to see which one fits you the best. As you become more sophisticated with your social media engagement, you might consider investing in the premium version of the tool that works best for you. They all have pricing plans that are affordable and budget-friendly. The key to using social media scheduling tools is to make them work for you. Find time at least once a week where you can block an hour to create and schedule your social media content for the forthcoming week. As you do, you’ll find yourself with more time to work on other tasks and projects, while narrowing your social media focus during the week to “in the moment” or “late-breaking news” updates.
- Implement a “two-for-one.” Do you only have time to post messages to one social network? Then implement a “two-for-one” by automatically posting to a second social network. How do you do this? By visiting the IFTTT website and activating a “recipe.” IFTTT stands for If This Then That, and on the website you will find a host of “recipes” that can help you automatically post to a second network, exponentially increasing your productivity and social media reach. As an example, you can activate a recipe that will automatically “tweet” your Facebook posts on Twitter. While using recipes on IFTTT is a great productivity strategy, I caution you that it’s not always ideal. If you go down this path, I encourage you to work towards eventually creating original content for each unique network – since each social media network has its own nuance and culture. But if your current reality is that you only have time to post to one network, this can be a good temporary strategy that expands your reach.
- Coordinate through a workflow system. Inevitably, you will find yourself inviting others within your organization to contribute to your social media messaging efforts to expand your volume of content. And as more hands enter the mix, coordination and collaboration challenges will arise. Let’s look at workflow system options that can help you eliminate coordination challenges.
- Institutional Resources: If you don’t have a centralized workflow system, I suggest you start by investigating what may be available at your institution. Your institution’s calendaring system may be just the right resource if it allows you to create a social media messaging calendar that can be shared with multiple people. Maybe your organization, as part of its Microsoft contract, has access to Microsoft SharePoint. Or perhaps your institution is on Google’s “G Suite” platform. Each of these resources offers the ability to share calendars or documents that allow your social media messaging team to stay organized and coordinated through a single, centralized tool.
- Cloud-Based File Storage Systems: If you don’t have a good internal resource, the next tool to investigate is a cloud-based file storage system. The top resources for this are Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box. All have free options, with the opportunity to expand storage through premium versions. The advantage to using a cloud-based storage system is that you can create a workflow system in whatever document type you’d like – Word, Excel, really anything – and then share it in a folder that all of you access. So there’s really no learning curve to implementing this collaboration solution.
- Cloud-Based Collaboration Apps: If the first two options just don’t cut it for you, I recommend you consider cloud-based collaboration apps that have been designed for effective and efficient group collaboration. I’m a big fan of Evernoteand Wunderlist and both offer options for group sharing and collaboration. There are many other great collaboration tools out there, including Trello, OneNote, Stride (formerly HipChat), and Twist just to name a few. Each has different features and ways to collaborate, and all require some dedicated time from each individual to understand how to use them properly. But the coordination improvements and productivity gains are well worth the time spent overcoming the learning curve.
Messaging to your constituents via social media is an important component of a comprehensive Advancement operation. But it can quickly become a time-suck if you’re not using the right tools. What other automated solutions or collaboration tools do you use that help you stay productive and efficient with your social media messaging?