Most nonprofits are on Facebook, some have a Twitter account, you might even be playing around with Instagram.
But do you feel guilty for not spending more time on all of them? Or being on the many others?
Social media is a technology with some of the biggest upsides and downsides. You feel like you’re missing out if you’re not active on every single one. The technology provides very good exposure and opportunity to build relationships and communities. The stats are very misleading and make people focus on the wrong thing. And you can now create actual 2-way conversations and learn about your subscribers.
But don’t feel bad one bit for not spending time on them. You do so much, and organizations have been built and run for hundreds of years without using social media.
However, in my experience, you should at the very least create a profile on every platform you can and develop it to have your branding.
Different communities, generations, and countries have preferences for consuming content and connecting with organizations. You never know when a new donor or volunteer will search you up on a platform and hope to find you. Make sure you have some kind of presence on all of the major platforms. It’s a small time investment to simply reserve your spot and name on these sites to make yourself available.
In addition to allowing people to find you if they want to there, merely having profiles is good for your SEO (search engine optimization) and web presence in general. While consistently posting would be even better, having the profiles is a start. This is a great way to dominate the search results if someone searches for your organization name, all of your profiles will show up as well.
So if you’ve been active with a Facebook page for 5 years but haven’t touched anything else, you should go set up your profiles right now. You don’t have to do anything with them, simply having them provides value. This post from Hubspot that’s always updated with new social media image dimensions will help you quickly create a profile and cover photos for multiple platforms all at once. If you’re going to be everywhere, you need to keep consistent branding, but ensure optimization for each platform’s profile.
The next step: Do you need to create unique content for every platform?
You may have heard something like, “don’t bother posting on a platform if you’re not creating unique content for each one”. I disagree. While yes, it won’t be as beneficial if you’re not focusing on a channel directly, reposting can be a viable way to keep your presence going until you do have time. Then, when you want to seriously test out that platform, you can start engaging and creating custom content for it and already have a history of posts.
Cross-posting the same content across different platforms can be easily done with a social scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite. They allow you to write a Facebook post, Twitter post, and Instagram post all at the same time. When you start getting into niche platforms like Snapchat you can’t use a scheduler, but the rules of content repurposing may still apply.
In most cases your subscribers won’t subscribe to you on every channel, so the chance of them getting annoyed by seeing the same post across all channels is actually quite small. And even if they do, they aren’t likely to even see the same message because each platform has its own algorithm to decide who gets to see what messages.
So using one of these social scheduling tools (for free) is an easy way to build your presence without taking any extra time.
Be everywhere, but don’t spread yourself too thin
If you’ve been focusing on 1 platform and are seeing success with it, don’t start creating content for other platforms if it’s going to risk your focus and attention on the original. It’s very easy to spread yourself too thin on different platforms, particularly when it comes to reading and engaging with people (which can be an infinite rabbit hole of time-consuming distractions).
So just as you have been, keep your core platform. If you have a few extra minutes to cross-post, then do that, and if you have even a bit of extra time above that do some experiments with a second core platform to see if you can gain some traction with your subscribers.
As Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares suggest in their book Traction, you should choose just a couple of channels to test at one time. Once you find one that is starting to resonate with your audience then you double down and invest in it more and move your test to another.
With this strategy, you do an exploratory period, a few months, on each platform to see if it works for you. If you start to gain traction, then you put that into your permanent plan.
We don’t want to just add things to your plate and giving your organization the availability and wider presence doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. That is until you’re ready to really test out other options. Just remember: Be everywhere, but don’t spread yourself thin.