I was in San Antonio this week to facilitate an interactive master class for 300 nonprofits that was hosted by the San Antonio Nonprofit Council that hosts The Big Give, a very successful local giving day. One of the goals of the giving day is to improve the local skills and capacity of nonprofits in online fundraising, and I was impressed at the level of knowledge in the room. (Having 300 people and doing a participatory style of teaching gave me an opportunity to use some of my facilitation techniques for large groups that are in my tool set – and because colleagues have asked me to share tips about it, expect that in another blog post next week.)
I taught a section on developing and implementing an effective content strategy after some exercises to help participants identify target audiences, create personas, measurable objectives, and channels. It struck me that an effective nonprofit content strategy is a process of continuous improvement. It starts with ideas and brainstorming. So having a few brainstorming facilitation techniques to use with your team, is useful. Then you have get organized, really organized. Not only do you need to pre-plan your content using an editorial calendar but coordinate and assign tasks and organize your content assets and curation. And, then there is the task of putting fingers to keyboard and creating the content as well as curating. And on a regular basis, measure, learn, and improve what you are doing.
When I described this, a few people had a look of horror or maybe stress come across their faces. I asked them to share their thoughts. One person said, “This is so difficult because you really need to have a lot of discipline to make this sort of process a habit.” We discussed the metaphor of cooking – that if you are organized about doing your shopping and stocking your pantry, having your recipes ready – then cooking meals can be more efficient. My question, what is the first step you can take towards building this continuous improvement process in your organization? The answer – maybe start small – start with planning one month or maybe one-two week period. Schedule for your first one-hour content strategy meeting with agenda:
As a one-person blogging shop, I know too well about this discipline and how difficult it is to maintain, especially if you don’t have an army of people on your team. Recently, I have discovered two useful tools that can help make this whole continuous improvement process of your content less time consuming. Format Templates, Content Asset Organizing Tools, and scheduling software that covers this whole process.
Co-Schedule: A Tool That Manages the Continuous Improvement Process
Co-Schedule is a word press plugin (and now can be used even if you don’t use a word press blog) that puts all the steps into one dashboard. It integrates with your social media channels and allows you pre-schedule your message, it integrates with your analytics tools so you can view your metrics, and it even connects with Google Calendar and Evernote and others. It is designed for one-person bloggers and small teams, so it is ideal for nonprofits that don’t have a specialized social media manager on staff. It isn’t free, but the $15 a month fee is reasonable – and certainly worth it in the time savings. You can test it for free for two weeks here.
Some of my colleagues, Donna Arriaga, used tools like Trello for a blogging calendar. However, in my opinion, I think Co-Schedule might be better suited for those who want ease of use and good tutorials.
Content Assets: Organizing and Archiving Tools
That’s a fancy name for your “pantry” or your sources – like photos, existing reports, or videos. I think the best approach is to use something like Box or Drop Box and a folder structure organized like your editorial calendar.
Format Templates and Cheat Sheets
One of the things that Nancy Lublin mentioned during her keynote at Data on Purpose Conference a few months ago is that DoSomething templates all their campaigns. Having templates make it more efficient to implement and it also makes it easy for your set up your measurement process. For example, if a blog is part of your social media channels, these templates from Hubspot are really useful.
Does your organization develop and implement your social media content strategy as a continuous process? What tools, techniques, or work flows work for you? What are your best tips?