How can charities manage social media 24/7?

  • Maintaining a social media presence outside of core business hours is a challenge for small charities
  • Posting outside of office hours can help charities to reach more people
  • We look at the best ways to manage staff and resources to avoid risk

Many small charities find it hard to manage social media. Communicating during and after office hours can be very time consuming for an organisation that may be run by just a few staff or volunteers.

And yet social media can build relationships, inspire supporters and help to change lives. Out-of-hours might be the time when your audience is most active.

We look at how you can maximise your social media effectiveness, by making decisions about how best to use time and resources.

Analyse your peak times

Research shows that the best time of day to post may not be during the working day, but in the evenings or at weekends.

Try posting at different times and see what response you get. Do you get better results on social media out-of-hours? What is the effect on donations, sign-ups and click-throughs?

Many channels and tools have built-in analysis programs which give you data about your own peak posting times.

Use scheduling and get notifications

Posting out-of-hours doesn’t mean that you need to log in at 9pm and then manually compose and post. Free tools such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck allow you to schedule posts. This works well if you are promoting an event or service, or sharing a photo or link – but not if you are using social media to build relationships.

If you are not listening to what other people are talking about, following a hashtag or responding to mentions or comments, you could be missing valuable opportunities.

These are the factors that build a relationship, or give help to or inspire someone.

To keep on top of mentions and hot topics, set up notifications so that you receive emails to help you decide whether to respond or not.

A social media policy that outlines what you will respond to and what you choose to ignore, can also be really helpful if shared among your team.

Identify out-of-hours opportunities

Capitalising on relevant topical issues is a key use of social media and a big opportunity for small charities to be heard.

If there is a soap storyline, news item or documentary relating to your cause, people will be talking about it on social media, providing a golden opportunity to connect to new audiences and to tell your stories.

Look at the TV schedule for the week ahead and identify any relevant programmes. Find out what the hashtag is and plan how you will join in. Will you share important points from the programme, promote the work you are doing or make a fundraising request?

This collection of charity tweets sent during a recent BBC One documentary shows the different methods that large and small charities used.

Think about resources

Maintaining 24/7 social media activity is hard for a small charity. The person looking after social media is often managing many other things at the same time. They may be ‘keeping an eye on social’ out-of-hours because they recognise that it is important and ‘is just part of the job’. This is a risk. Staff can feel unrewarded, neglect their work/life balance, or leave.

This post from the Resource Alliance describes five ways that organisations can resource social media. It includes reviewing job descriptions and pay, giving time off in lieu, paying overtime, flexible working and training.

For small charities, some of these solutions aren’t feasible and difficult decisions have to be made about resources and priorities.

Evaluate and choose just one or two social channels and use them well. If you can’t give time off or extra pay, ensure that staff feel valued and that the time and effort they put into social media is recognised.