I used to work at a charity where once a week the comms manager would go online, find some blog posts or news articles, and then go on Twitter and post three tweets (pretty much all in one go) about those articles. Then they’d come off, and not go on again until next week.
It was pointless. They knew that, but what could they do, there wasn’t time for anything else. After a while, the organisation decided they wanted to do more than periodic posting, and they chose to invest more in comms, that’s when I started working there, managing digital comms.
This organisation, like many others, recognised that digital communications, and more specifically social media, is important in the modern, digital world that we live in. As an example, more than half (64%) of the UK population uses social media. And, if you can believe it, on average in the UK we now spend more time on media and communications than we do sleeping!
A lot of organisations are beginning to see the value of social media, 94% of global NGOs agree that social media is effective for online brand awareness, 60% agree it is effective for online fundraising, and 73% for creating social change. All of which explains why 44% of UK charities have created social media communities to engage with their supporters and donors, up from 31% the year before.
Little wonder then that 66% of global charities say that their senior staff support making social media a priority. Yet, despite that, only 11% have a full-time or part-time social media manager. For the other 89% of charities, staff are having to fit social media in around all of the other things that they have to do.
As anyone working for a charity will know, ‘work this organisation needs to complete’ does not always fit neatly into ‘time available to do that work’. There is always so much to be done. Time for any comms is often strapped when you’ve got pressing deadlines on projects, events, or funding bids. So, for me, finding time for digital comms specifically was a challenge. If I wanted to avoid just becoming the new person who pointlessly went on social media once a week to post some random articles (which I did!), I had to find a new way to organise my time. Planning became very important.
It’s a calendar, but there’s more to it than that
I tried a number of different tools and approaches and over time, I developed a solution that worked really well for me. On the face of it, it’s a calendar. But there’s a bit more to it than that, it’s a calendar that already marks important dates and events coming up so I know in advance when things are happening that we’ll want to comment on, and a calendar that I can print and write on myself to mark posts I’ve scheduled, and see days that I’ve got something to say and days I’ve not planned anything yet.
Its simplicity is what made it useful, I’ve looked at other tips and templates, and they’re just complicated and kind of overwhelming! There’s always an assumption that you’ve got multiple accounts, and you’ll post multiple times a day, and you’ve got extra time to make an image to go with every post. Which is pretty laughable for most small and medium sized charities! I wanted something smaller scale than that – where are the tools for people who are squeezing in social media a couple of times a week?
I can’t be the only person who would find this helpful
When I started Fancy Guppy, I used the same calendar method to manage my social media (I’m still pretty pressed for time!), then it hit me ‘I can’t be the only person who would find this helpful’. So, in January I made a template, with notable events coming up, links to where people can find more information, Twitter and Facebook accounts of people running the campaigns, some Twitter chats people might want to take part in, and some useful hashtags to have a look at. And made it publicly available.
And it turns out I was right!
“Everyone head over and download @Fancy_Guppy social media calendar… it’s AWESOME and FREE!!”
“Thank you, Michaela, I’ll be using this for sure!”
“Great idea! We will check it out. Been looking for something similar.”
“This is actually amazing! Thank you ” (this one’s my favourite ❤️ ????!)
I cannot tell you how great it is to hear this kind of response from people, I’ve been blown away by how popular they’ve been. And I’m so so pleased, because this is why I wanted to make them freely available. Maybe it sounds naff, but I know that what the charity sector does is important and makes a difference, which is why I want to support it.
Now, at Fancy Guppy we produce them each month. We scour the internet to find significant dates coming up over the next month, and all the information you need (links to more info, social media accounts, hashtags, etc.) and put them on the calendar. We try to include as many things as possible, but some months not everything will fit and we have to make a choice about what makes the cut, generally we try to find things that will have a broad appeal, but we also look at who is signed up to get the calendars and try and think about what will be relevant to their organisations – which is difficult, because it’s a lot of people doing a lot of different things! And we always encourage people to just get in touch and let us know what they want.
It’s a simple thing really, and it might not be everything you will ever need to support your social media. But for some people it’s enough. And it’s definitely a first step that you can take to managing your accounts better. Plus, we’ll be following it up with blogs, training, and of course, more calendars – which you can subscribe to receive every month, completely free. They work for us, they work for our subscribers, and we really think they’ll work for you too.
Michaela Hodges is Director of Fancy Guppy, an organisation working with nonprofits to help them make more use of digital in their work – be it campaigning, comms, fundraising, marketing, or events.
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