Social media for nonprofits: Make the right software decision
Whether your nonprofit is juggling numerous social media platforms or using just one, the experience can be overwhelming.
For each platform, you might need to create content, schedule posts, engage with followers, repurpose content and share content from others. Ideally, you're also collecting data from your followers, responding quickly to their questions or feedback, and looking for insights on their behavior and satisfaction. If your nonprofit has major competitors, it can be helpful to track their social media efforts, too.
Enter social media management software, which can greatly simplify these processes. Here's a primer on how to select the social media management software that'll best suit your nonprofit.
What aspects of social media management are most important to you?
Before choosing software, consider which aspects of social media management matter most. For example:
- Do you need help tracking mentions of your nonprofit across multiple social media platforms? Software that offers cross-channel social media monitoring can help you access all of your data in one place and quickly respond to those who mention your nonprofit.
- Do you need help managing social media or marketing campaigns? Social media management software can be used to schedule automated posts via various accounts as well as track engagement, such as likes, comments and retweets. Better yet, social media management software can help you maximize search engine optimization — which can increase traffic to your site.
- Do you want to analyze social media data? Analytics can give you information about your followers (or a specific demographic of followers). Data such as likes, replies, comments and clicks can be used to measure progress toward key performance indicators or other goals. You can even use software to create social ads about a campaign, targeting followers or potential supporters by their profiles and online activity.
- Do you want to monitor your social media reputation? Look for software that alerts you when your organization has been mentioned and offers reputation analysis and brand sentiment.
- Do you want to boost social media engagement? Some social media management software supports polls and contests that help you interact with followers.
- Do you need help planning and publishing social media content or posts? Social media management software can help you do this across multiple social media accounts, plus archive posts and other content after the fact. Software can also enable you to add social share buttons to your campaigns so you can track how your content is shared.
How much are you willing to pay?
When considering your nonprofit's social media management software options, it's important to know how much you're willing to pay. While many basic tools are available for free, more advanced tools and features might have a monthly fee. Also consider possible additional costs. For example, although access may be available for free or a low monthly fee, you could pay extra for an advanced analytic report.
What's the best way to compare software options?
To compare social media management software, use comparison or review websites to make a list of each option's tools. You'll probably see overlap in the offerings. Look for software that offers the basic tools you need and the unique features you want.
It might help to ask these questions:
- How many social media platforms and apps can the software manage? Is the number adequate for current and future needs?
- Is the software intuitive? How easy is it to schedule posts? Are the feeds for multiple social media accounts shown in a clean layout?
- What are the reporting options? What types of analytic reports are available? Do the reports provide basic or in-depth data? Will you need to use a set template or can you create custom reports? Is there an additional fee for reports?
- Who has access to the software? Is use restricted to certain team members?
- How well does the software integrate with other organizational software? For example, will it work in conjunction with your customer relationship management software?
- What kind of tech support is available? Can you speak to a person if need be? If not, what's the response time for email inquiries?
With your social media goals in mind, don't be afraid to experiment with software options to see what works best for you. If you're having trouble deciding between two types of software, try the free versions of each, if possible. Many tools also offer free 30-day trials. A well-informed decision will help you make the most of your social media efforts.
MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.
Keyhole: The list of the top 25 social media analytics tools by Marcus Guido (2016)
Dezzain: Choosing the top 12 social media management tools by Richie KS (2015)
Jeff Bullas's Blog: The 17 best social media management tools by Michael Jenkins
G2 Crowd: Best social media software options
Social Media Examiner: 5 social media management tools to save time by Kenneth Waldman (2016)
Buffer Social: Track every important conversation: 6 simple ways to build a social listening dashboard by Caerley Hill (2015)
Buffer Social: 30 + social media monitoring tools, tips, and strategies: A #bufferchat recap by Nicole Miller (2014)
The Social Impact Communicator: The 7 best social media tools for nonprofits by Anna Olinger (2016)
The Content Factory: How much do pro social media management tools cost?
WordStream: Social media management tools: What's the right tool for your business? by Megan Marrs (2015)