Enter your details to sign up for NTEN updates. We'll send you about 3-5 emails a month and you can change your preferences at any time by clicking on a link in the footer of our emails.
The rise of social media has created an increased demand for community managers, also known as the people who run your social channels to engage your supporters. As your nonprofit’s online community grows, it’s important you have the right person in place to manage it.
Social media can help you tell stories to reach a new audience—but it’s not enough to simply have a presence. It’s also important to spend time on your channels to grow and engage new and returning supporters. More nonprofits are realizing that social media management goes beyond the scheduling of your weekly posts, and a community manager can ensure that your social presence is genuinely social.
So what makes a good nonprofit community manager? Whether you’re looking for a new job opportunity, want to improve your own skills, or are looking to hire a new community manager, here are the skills to focus on.
1. Be flexible & reactive
A good community manager has to be flexible enough to react to any important events that require a change of schedule. Whether it’s a breaking story, an unexpected event, or a social media crisis that affects your organization, there are plenty of reasons to be agile.
A community manager has to spend time on the social platforms on a daily basis to listen to your supporters and join their conversations. It’s the best way to learn more about your audience, how they think, and how they can be continually engaged and learn more about your cause.
Live tweeting can also be part of your job, whether for an upcoming event or a regular chat with your supporters. This is a great opportunity to show your social side while allowing time to listen to feedback and ideas.
Moreover, a closer look at the latest trends of each social platform can be helpful when planning your next campaign to make sure that you’re both relevant and creative.
2. Know your audience
A great skill for a community manager is the ability to understand your target audience. It isn’t enough to have an understanding of the social platforms if you’re not able to speak to your supporters’ language.
One of the first steps for a new community manager is to spend time monitoring conversations that you supporters are having. This way you are able to learn more about them and how you can approach them when needed.
The tone of voice can also help your organization be consistent with messaging. A community manager needs to collaborate with the wider team to understand the brand positioning and how you should be approaching the social tone of voice.
For example, is your organization’s tone of voice more formal or casual? Are you able to add a humorous element or would this sound flippant? All these decisions need to be discussed to ensure that your nonprofit’s voice is consistent.
3. Be organized
Planning ahead will not only save you time, but will keep your messaging succinct and ensure you don’t miss any key dates. Make sure you’re using a content scheduling tool, and have a calendar with important dates relevant to your cause.
Often the nature of working for a nonprofit means that time and resources can be limited, so it’s also a good idea to have a ready-to-go bank of evergreen content for those moments when you’re short of time. Evergreen content doesn’t date, and can be adapted and used time-and-time again. You can also use tools like Canva, which has a free version for nonprofits, to create branded images and graphics ahead of time.
4. Follow the rule of thirds
A good skill for a community manager is to be strategic. Think of your daily work as part of the bigger strategy of creating an engaging social presence and plan your time accordingly.
A useful way to be strategic with your content is to apply the rule of thirds. It’s a quick formula to split your time into three equal parts:
- Promote: This is the content that refers to your campaigns, your next actions, or your fundraising asks. You are seeking increased awareness and traffic to the site and possibly an appeal to new donors.
- Share: This is the content that you’re sharing from others. It refers to the content that’s relevant to your cause and your supporters. The choice to curate content from other sources can help you build relationships and start a conversation, and also show that you’re not simply interested in promoting your own work. In the same category you can also include user-generated content, which can derive directly from your supporters.
- Engage: This is the social part—you’re actually engaging with the community. It’s the opportunity to listen to them and join a conversation with the ultimate goal of maintaining an active community around your cause.
5. Be equal parts creative & analytical
Whilst it’s important to inform your content by using analytics, you also need to be creative and unafraid to try out new ideas. Analytics can help shape your creativity by letting you check what’s worked and what hasn’t through A/B testing, and then your creativity should help you to continually refine your content based on its performance.
For example, what images do your supporters respond to the most? Do videos get more reactions than images? What about questions vs. statements? This feeds nicely into the rule of thirds, allowing you to be strategic while also letting those creative juices flow.
Social media is fast paced, ever changing, constantly growing, and exciting. Nonprofits have inspiring stories to tell, so it’s important to make sure that the person managing your channels is equipped with the skills necessary to really champion your cause. Being a community manager effectively makes you the online voice of an organization, and it’s essential to be passionate and well equipped to take on such an indispensable and rewarding role.