Image: Prixel Creative

Running a nonprofit is time consuming and finding the energy for extra activity outside of daily operations is rare. Yet and still, social media is an extremely important way for you to get the word out about your cause and if used effectively for brand-building and marketing, it can save you time and money.  In fact, a study by the Nonprofit Technology Network showed that last year, social media audiences in the nonprofit sector grew faster than those of email or website, so it’s essential that organizations utilize this very free and super valuable resources to reach their target markets.

Being socially effective doesn’t have to be as demanding as it may seem.  Here are three free tools to help you out, but that you may not be using to their full capabilities.

Did you know that Twitter actually has an advanced search function?  Many people don’t and it’s the perfect way to see what’s actually being talked about in your particular industry.  You can head straight to or after performing a normal search, select Advanced Search on the left.  Especially if your organization is local to just a specific area, you’ll want to use this to narrow down your search terms.  Aside from seeing what’s being talked about, you can find some really amazing users to follow and possibly, build with.  Another benefit is that you can exclude words that are popular on Twitter, but not related to what you’re really searching for.  What if your search for “child hunger” is filled with results about “The Hunger Games”?  Needless to say, you’d get some incorrect results without using exclusion.

[Tweet “Being socially effective doesn’t have to be as demanding as it may seem. #consciousedu”]

You may have heard of Hootsuite and you may even be using it, but the important question is: How? The scheduling and auto-scheduling features in Hootsuite can be a crutch for your uber busy organization.  For my projects, it’s really important that I continue to share the same links over and over and Hootsuite allows me to easily do that while changing the content of the posts up a bit so that they don’t appear to be coming from a machine.  Hootsuite is also my go-to for deeper monitoring. On its feed tabs, you can also add streams that are based on searches—my favorites being the names of my companies or projects in parentheses, key industry terms, and hashtags.

It’s no secret that Instagram just wasn’t created for businesses to market themselves so it can be difficult to share your social messages on that platform, but although there are challenges, there’s no reason not to give Instagram a little more of your time.  You’ve likely seen those cool year-in-review videos that your friends may have posted from Iconosquare, but its use stretches far beyond entertainment purposes.  It’s a great way to take Instagram from your phone to the comfort of your computer and even though you can only post from your phone, there are a ton of other benefits that can help you manage your account better.  The most helpful Iconosquare function may be its comment tracker.  The Instagram app only allows you to see a certain number of likes and comments, but with Iconosquare, you can see them all, and because you’re on your computer, the likelihood of typos due to just “fat fingering” a mobile screen is now null and void.

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