“There’s only so much time in a day!”
That’s a common response from my nonprofit clients when I advise them that their community organization should be posting on Facebook 3 to 5 times every week. And, to be honest, many of them are ready to completely give up when I get around to explaining how to schedule and target their posts. Scheduling is an easy way to ensure that their messages get seen by more people, by controlling the specific days and times their fans will see the posts. Targeting is just as easy and posts can be tailored for specific and relevant fans based on location, age, or gender.
I understand all too well that administering a nonprofit is time consuming and that a lot of the work is done by volunteers. As a result, maintaining an active Facebook Page for the organization can easily slip off the list of priorities. A simple solution is to take advantage of an often under-utilized Facebook Page feature, which allows organizations to schedule posts in advance. This is an essential tool for any busy nonprofit.
If you help a nonprofit with its social media or communication, I recommend that you set aside a block of a time once a week to schedule three or more posts for the week. These posts can be gleaned from the organization’s events calendar or newsletter, and additional content that isn’t necessarily time sensitive can be pulled in from other sources. It is important to schedule the posts for the times and days most fans are online (but you may be at your busiest). Then you can relax, because you’ve already done your social media quota for the week. Throughout the week, as you come across or create new content, feel free to also share it. Don’t misconstrue the ability to schedule posts as free license to ignore Facebook the rest of the week. Be sure to check in on your posts and respond to comments or questions – or even modify your settings so that you get an email notification when someone has interacted with your page.
Scheduling posts has proven useful for many of my nonprofits clients. For example, the Barre-based Project Independence, an adult day health services center with a planned program of activities designed to promote well-being through social and health-related services, immediately benefited from this time-saving tool.
According to Sue Catto, Office Administrator, “Scheduling posts on Facebook saves me time by allowing me within a block of time once per month to enter all of the activities and menus for that month. That way I don’t have to go in each day to post these items.”
The organization also likes that they can direct those who depend on their services to go to the Project Independent Facebook Page to see what’s happening on that particular day.
“Potential participants and their caregivers will look at the calendar several days ahead to see what’s happening or what’s for lunch to decide when they would like to attend,” said Catto, “If they were to visit on a day there is nothing of interest to them, it would not entice them to return and that is not helpful to the caregivers because sometimes we are the last resort before looking at nursing homes.”
As Facebook reduces the number of people who “organically” see Page posts, scheduling posts is more than just a time-management tool. It’s also a way to boost the likelihood that your content will be seen. One of the metrics Facebook uses when choosing to display a post in a person’s newsfeed is how recent the post is. Using Facebook Insights, the free analytics tool included on your Facebook page, you can determine the best time to schedule a post based on when your fans are actually online (you can find this under your “insights” tab under “posts.”) Instead of waiting to upload the post at the best time, the post can be scheduled in advance to be distributed at that time. This is particularly beneficial to organization staff if they best times are outside of your normal business hours.
Sarita Khan, of Montgomery Center, runs an informational website and Facebook Page on the traditional uses for nettles, the latest scientific research on this medicinal plant, recipes, and Vermont organic nettle tea for sale. She is looking for maximum exposure. However, like most organizational and business leaders, she is very busy.
“I like the idea of being able to target the timing of posts so they get maximum exposure and ‘eyes’ on the post,” she wrote, “I am not always able to be at the computer to do a post at the optimal time.”
The ability to schedule posts in advance is a tool that is useful for almost any organization, business, or local government. Farms can schedule reminders of CSA pickups or farmer’s markets, libraries can schedule out reminders for recurring events, and towns can post meeting announcements. How can your organization use this important tool?