Tag Archives: promoting

schedule social media posts? use with caution

I’ve been using social media before it was called social media: I was a heavy user of USENET newsgroups back in the 1990s, and moderated the soc.org.nonprofit group for a few years. USENET was all about interaction with others and networking – but in text-based formats. As a result of that experience, I learned early so, so much about using the Internet both for promotions and for engagement: it gave me terrific grounding for using modern social media tools (and least I think so). As a one-person shop with no permanent agency affiliation, no best selling book and no big media splash, I’ve done pretty well at attracting followers on both Twitter and Facebook.

I use tools like Hootsuite to pre-program tweets to Twitter and status updates to Facebook and GooglePlus, but I don’t overly-rely on those tools: I still take at least a couple of hours every week to scroll through those I follow on Twitter and to read updates, to retweet things, to reply to posts, etc. I also pick one of my Twitter lists every week to read through and do the same. I wish it was as easy to do that on Facebook, but that’s another blog…

That said, I do use Hootsuite to pre-program tweets and Facebook page posts. I do this days, weeks, even months in advance. And I’ve been doing something in the last several weeks that seems to attract a lot more likes, followers and interactions for me: choosing my own social media theme for a day, and programming posts, especially tweets, once an hour around that theme, for 4-5 hours on that one day.

Creating tweets and other social media messages around a theme for the day doesn’t require me to create new information: I choose themes based on pages on my web site and posts on my blog that I would love for people to visit or revisit. Some days, I tweet about the same web page or blog post four times, but always with different keywords and a different description.

Some of the day-long themes I’ve tweeted around:

  • ethics in international volunteering
  • how to get a job in or experience for a job in humanitarian aid and development
  • controversies regarding not paying interns
  • using Twitter
  • ethics in communications
  • safety in volunteer programs
  • resources regarding volunteer firefighters
  • virtual volunteering
  • competing online with breaking news
  • welcoming volunteers (and how you might be making them unwelcome)
  • digital/IT-related volunteering
  • conflict, free speech, reconciliation
  • social cohesion, building understanding

Your nonprofit, non-governmental organization, school, government agency or other mission-based initiative can do the same: look through your web pages that are focused on educating people about your cause or mission or reaching clients and potential clients in particular. Do you see themes emerging? What about UN international days that relate to the mission of your initiative – could you build a day-of-social-media-messaging around that theme?

On a related note, if you have an event, or an approaching program deadline, or some other time-sensitive information or announcement, don’t rely on just one tweet or one Facebook post to get the word out. You need to come up with reasons to post multiple times on Twitter, even in just one day, about a key event: each post could feature a different photo, a different keyword, and slightly different wording.

Oh, but doesn’t that mean followers keep reading the same message over and over? No. That’s because most people aren’t sitting and looking at one Facebook page or one Twitter feed all day long. I’m very lucky if one of my followers just happens to be looking at Twitter when I post – it’s very likely most WON’T be. For my followers to see a message, they either have to be staring at the screen the moment I post, to go specifically to my Facebook page or Twitter feed to read only my social media posts, to see the message when it’s reposted by someone else, or when it uses a keyword tag that they follow.

The only way scheduling messages for later posting to social media works, however, is if it’s coupled with live, in-the-moment interactions on social media: liking other people and agency’s content, responding to that content, asking questions regarding other people’s posts, etc. If I don’t show interest in the social media posts of others, why should they show interests in mind?

And whatever you do, do NOT use Twitter only as a gateway for your Facebook posts. No one is going to click on that truncated message on Twitter to read the rest of it on Facebook. It shows a profound laziness on your part.

Brag about it

Once upon a time, I was the publicity director at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. I was in charge of all marketing and public relations for this major national summer theatre festival. And believe it or not, merely having Sigourney Weaver or Stockard Channing in a production wasn’t always enough to sell tickets. The Internet was far from mainstream in those days – there wasn’t even a World Wide Web yet (just newsgroups, gopher and what not) – so we were doing all marketing and PR by newspaper (remember those?), radio, TV, posters and postal mailings (oh, those bulk mailings…. I don’t miss those).

A tradition that started many years before I had this role was the brag board: one very large bulletin board in the hall way that lead to the costume department and backstage. I (and every publicity director before me) used it to post any newspaper articles about or mentioning the festival, as well as newspaper advertisements for the festival.

It’s one thing to get print outs of articles, neatly presented in a folder. But that board was a very powerful visual for the work I was doing (supported by some wonderful interns). Too often, people just see a full house and think it somehow happened magically. The brag board was my way to say, “Hey, this is what it takes to get those seats filled.”

That brag board not only reminded my co-workers and supervisors about what I was doing, it also reminded the actors, directors and other artists the importance of doing the press interviews I was asking/would be asking them to do. Some actors get annoyed by being asked to do interviews (Ms. Weaver never was, in case you were wondering). This was my way of reminding the artists just how vital it was for the festival that they say yes to publicity activities.

That brag board was internal marketing. And it’s why I had a great summer as publicity director – because everyone knew what I did, and they valued it.

For a few years after that, I forgot that important lesson about internal marketing: I assumed the head of the organization, the heads of other departments, the receptionist, and others knew what I was doing because it was so clearly presented online. It’s all there, on the Internet – everyone sees that, right? It took a woman I admired tremendously, who always made me feel valued at her organization, to take me aside one day and remind me of the importance of internally marketing yourself. It’s of vital importance that you communicate to everyone at your organization about your role, what you do, and what the results of your work are – otherwise, you will find your budget being reduced, your department staff getting cut – and maybe even see your job get eliminated.

Having your work so prominent online, or among your professional associations, is NOT enough to ensure your role is valued at the organization that employs you.

Create a brag board. Put up copies of newspaper articles, blog posts, emails, a compilation of tweet mentions – anything that shows your organization is getting noticed or lauded. Print out and post photos on it that your volunteers are taking while volunteering and posting online. Put the board in a break room or hallway – a high traffic area where employees, consultants, volunteers and visitors will see it – or, if that doesn’t get approved, in your office. Keep it neat, well-organized, and frequently updated!

Keep forwarding links and emails to all staff – hey, look at this! – but don’t ever let that be a substitute for a big visual representation of the work you are doing.