tools

How to Make Time for Marketing

One of the common complaints I hear from clients is that they have trouble making time for marketing. And I totally get it.

Even as a marketer myself, there are weeks when it’s a struggle for me. We are all busy people, and especially when marketing isn’t a skill you already have, it can be hard to move from good intention to action.

No matter what kind of social impact organization you lead or serve at, I know there are a lot of demands on you. A lot of people need your time. A lot of tasks need your attention. A lot of fires need putting out.

But I’d encourage you to make time for marketing. Why? Well, first of all, you’re already doing it in some capacity. If you have any sort of process for communicating with the people who buy from you or donate to you (like social media, email, and events), you’re a marketer. So, you might as well strive for making it more effective.

Second, as you can see from the statement above, marketing is non-negotiable. Your nonprofit or social enterprise may be sitting pretty right now, but that may not always be the case. So, strengthening your marketing muscle is worth the investment. And, just like getting in shape, you only get stronger with time and practice.

Third, and building what we’ve already talked about, if making time for marketing isn’t a regular practice, you’ll never find extra time for it. Like most everything else, something you don’t deem as a current priority will never beat out “more important” tasks. Unless there’s a crisis. So, do yourself a favor and start easing into the habit now, before you’re forced to find the time in a state of panic.

I’ve got good news, though. There are any number of ways to fit marketing into your busy schedule. Today, I’ll tell you about four of my favorites. I’ll even give you a few tools to help maximize your time, as well as a suggested “bare bones” marketing strategy.

How to Make Time for Marketing

Fitting Marketing Into Your Busy Schedule

One simple Google search will probably give you numerous other tools and ideas for tackling marketing on a weekly or monthly basis, but these are my favorites. I don’t take credit for any of them, and I’ve tried all of them. I also recommend them all on a regular basis because I think each one has a lot of value.

1) Planning Your Week in 15 Minutes - Podcast episode + Workbook

I know it sounds too good to be true, but Steph Crowder has come up with a really great process for planning her weeks. Like a lot of us, she has a schedule that fluctuates constantly, so her system accounts for that. it was a technique she developed because she couldn’t find a planner that fit her needs.

Steph’s method is a variation of the popular “rocks, pebbles, sand” illustration. You look at the immovable “rocks” in your schedule like meetings and appointments, add in the “pebbles” which are important tasks that need to get done, and then finally fill up with “sand” which are less important tasks that should get done but take up time, yet remain flexible. Hint: the “pebbles” are where the magic happens. Click the link to hear her explain the process on her podcast. It’s worth a listen whether you decide this is the right route for you or not.

One of my good friends loves this system, and uses it regularly. The other great thing about it is that you only need a sheet of notebook paper. So, you can grab one of those beautiful $70 planners if you want, but it’s totally up to you!

2) Learn Time Blocking

There are a lot of ways to utilize time blocking, which is one of the reasons I like it. You can block minutes, hours, or even days. But the point of it is to set aside a chunk of time for a specific task—and nothing else.

For example, I typically practice “Marketing Mondays” and “Follow-Up Fridays.” On Mondays, I generally write blog posts, schedule social media, create additional content, and things like that. Fridays are for wrapping up anything I need to get done for Signify before the week ends. This leaves Tuesday through Thursday for meetings and client work.

Structuring my week this way ensures I’m working on my business, not just working in it. I can make progress on moving my own mission forward outside of the deliverables I need to create for clients.

For me, it’s just easiest to have these days set aside rather than rotating them each week. That’s why this method ended up working better for me than Steph’s process. It was one less decision to make, and helped me protect my time better.

You can read more about creating themes for your days and weeks in my guest post for Orange. (I love a good theme!)

However, one of my clients sets aside 10:00 a.m. to noon each day for her marketing and meetings. Another generally works from home, so he comes to the office for focused time to work on marketing and communications. His staff knows that when he’s in his office with the door closed, he needs quiet time to get these things done.

Another extremely popular take on this is the Pomodoro Technique. Not to be confused with the sauce, this method has you work in 25-minute chunks. It’s a very hyper-focused session that can be easily replicated throughout the day. (Short attention span? This may be your best bet.)

If this is a method you’d like to test, I also recommend reading my friend Carey Nieuwhof’s post on creating an energy management list. It’s a terrific reminder to keep in mind when you personally work best, and use that to your advantage.

And if you want to become a super time blocker, look no further than Michael Hyatt. He talks a little about his “ideal week” process in this post, among other places, but he’s one of those people who treats his week like a budget, accounting for every hour. Frankly, it was just too strict for me—but perhaps that’s also part of what accounts for the discrepancy in our incomes. ;)

3) Eat the Frog

Made popular by Brian Tracy, “eat the frog” refers to a quote by Mark Twain: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Tracy breaks it down here, but the gist is to do the thing you don’t want to do first thing so that it’s done and over with. Then you can move on with your day.

If you have a lot of resistance to marketing, this may be a good option for you. You can remove some of the anticipation and anxiety by sheer will.

Another option, of course, is to use this rule for your biggest and/or most important marketing tasks. Once you’ve knocked them out early on, you’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment no matter what happens during the rest of the day.

4) Get an Accountability Partner

if you’ve been around me or this blog for a while, you already know that I’m a huge fan of having an accountability partner or group of people you stay accountable to, like a mastermind. These people have been so helpful for me, and I think everyone could benefit from this support system.

I talk extensively about accountability partners and masterminds here, but for the purposes of helping you with your marketing, the short answer is that someone else will ask you if you got it done. You might be much less likely to skip it or move it to the back burner if you know someone’s going to be checking up on you.

Which Method is Right?

Trick question! The right answer is the one that works for you. Chose one of these options and stick to it, or try them all on and see what fits best. I most often use #2 and #3 myself, but that doesn’t mean those are the best choice for you.

Tools for Managing Your Time

Here are a few tools that save me some extra time each week, allowing for important tasks like marketing:

  • Acuity Scheduling: How many of us spend too much time scheduling appointments? Answer: almost all of us. Acuity lets me send someone a link to schedule when it’s convenient for them, without all the back-and-forth. (Calendly is another option.)

  • RescueTime: If you are unsure where your time goes each week, this software will track it for you and send you a weekly report.

  • Canva: I love Canva because it allows me to quickly create graphics for my website, blog, and social media. Once you have a template in place, it takes little time to swap out text and photos.

  • Asana: I keep track of all my tasks, as well as assign tasks to my interns using Asana. It even allows you to set up reoccurring tasks, attach files, and make notes and comments.

  • Smarterqueue: Social media should, of course, be social. But with limited time on my hands, I use this incredible tool to schedule and recycle content on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. (I compared 13 different software options here.)


Bare Bones Marketing

Note that this is bare bones marketing, not ideal marketing. But if you just need to find a way to make marketing a part of your regular routine, then here are my suggestions for incorporating it into your week. I’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible, narrowing it to the most important tasks you can knock out in one to two hours per week.

Anything you can do on top of it is highly recommended, but this is a good place to start. These are in no particular order, except for #5, so you can move them around to fit your schedule or preferences.

And guess what? This outline also fits nicely with any of the techniques above!

  • Week 1: Email your tribe - Emailing people is much more effective than social media, so be sure to talk to your audience regularly.

  • Week 2: Meet with a VIP - This could include a large donor or customer that you’re wooing, a key stakeholder already involved in your mission, or a potential sponsor or partner. Don’t wait for these appointments; seek them out.

  • Week 3: Be social - Pop into Facebook groups, post on social media, email people who have fallen off the radar, attend an event, and look for other ways to interact with peers and protentials.

  • Week 4: Create content - If you only have an hour or two at your disposal, then writing a blog post may not be possible, unless it’s a short one. But other doable options in that time frame might include a Facebook Live, “mini blog” on Instagram or Facebook, or time set aside to work on a larger content piece or campaign. You could also include being interviewed for an article or on a podcast here. I’m including this item because it’ll give you new things to talk about and promote on a continual basis to your donors, customers, partners, and fans.

  • Week 5: Your choice - Obviously, not every month has five weeks. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t capitalize on it when you get the chance! Use this week to go the extra mile on one of the above items. Alternatively, this could be an hour you set aside to regularly reflect on how your marketing has gone, and what should improve, continue or change. But I’m a big fan of reflecting more than once a year!



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There are any number of ways to fit marketing into your busy schedule. Today, I’ll tell you about a few of my favorites. I’ll even give you a few tools to help maximize your time, as well as a suggested “bare bones” marketing strategy.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I’m Kristi Porter, and I help cause-focused organizations understand and execute effective marketing campaigns so they can move from stressed to strategic. Your resources may be limited, but your potential isn’t. Whether you’re a nonprofit, social enterprise, or small business who wants to give back, I’ll show you how to have a bigger impact.


My Gift to You: Freebies

I think 2018 has already cost you enough.

Between your business expenses and your personal ones, you’ve probably reached the end of the year fed up with whipping out your debit or credit card. You’re ready to give your swiping muscle the slip.

So, while I can’t do a lot about your personal expenses, I’d like to help supply your nonprofit or social enterprises with a few freebies that will help you get noticed and grow. Consider them my gift to you.

My Gift to You: Freebies For Your Nonprofit or Social Enterprise

As much as I’d love to believe you read every word of my website with wrapped attention, I know that’s not the case. Some things are more important to you than others, and some information is more urgent. So, even though you can find these links on other parts of my site, I’ll make it easy to find by listing below for your convenience. Simply choose what matters most to you right now.

I hope this helps you succeed in 2019!

E-COURSE

5 Things To Stop Doing This Week To Jumpstart Your Marketing and Communications

LISTS

Make Your Next Launch Your Best Yet Marketing Checklist

21 Simple Yet Powerful Marketing Ideas That Are Free or Cheap

100 Content Ideas for Your Emails, Blogs, and Social Media Posts

My Favorite Resources List (books, podcasts, events, links, etc.)

10 Common Website Mistakes (And How to Fix Them!)

TOOLS

Marketing Plan Template

Know Your Audience Guide

10 Tools to Make Your Small Business Look More Professional

Social Media Scheduler Tool Comparison (13 popular softwares!)

Independent Contractor Hiring Checklist

What You Need to Convince Potential Sponsors and Partners Presentation Cheat Sheet

FACEBOOK GROUP

Join the Signifiers Facebook Group!

FOR MORE TRADITIONAL SMALL BUSINESSES

35 Creative Ways to Give Back With Your Business

PSST: Don't forget that you only have a couple more days to enter the Communications Strategy Session holiday giveaway, valued at $500! Details here. Resolve to improve your marketing in 2019!



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Free gifts for nonprofits and social enterprises

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


7 Simple Tools That Build a Strong Small Business Foundation

It's mid-January, and you may already be struggling to keep your New Year's resolutions. It's pretty common, and I feel the tug backwards too. Staying motivated just isn't easy when it's 20 degrees outside, am I right? But one of the best ways I've found for keeping myself focused and moving forward is to stay immersed in a subject, rather than it being a one-time lesson.

So, for the final weeks of January, I wanted to talk about "small business resolutions" that we should make and keep this year. These are things you may or may not have already thought about, but I believe they are key to a thriving nonprofit or social enterprise.

First up, I want to talk about seven simple tools that build a strong small business foundation. Think of this as putting your best, professional foot forward. You may consider the items below to be the next progression of your organization, or you may even just think of them as resetting to zero because they've been on your list for a long time, and you just haven't made the effort yet. Either way, they'll not only up your game, but they'll also improve people's perceptions of your organization, which, let's face it, is important whether we want it to be or not.

7 Simple Tools That Build a Strong Small Business Foundation

The Contract Shop

Many of us spend thousands of dollars ensuring that we have a beautiful, functional website, but after it's live, we do little to protect it and our business. Enter The Contract Shop. An ingenious way to make legal contracts easy and handy from my friend and mentor, Christina, you can stop by the shop and purchase a terms and conditions template for your website site in a jiffy.

When I launched my site, I knew that I needed to include all the legalese, but had no idea how to write it or what it needed to say. However, once I purchased this template, I had the terms, conditions, and privacy policy online in about 15 minutes! I've heard terrible stories about people's website design and content getting ripped off, and even saw it happen once to a client. This is an simple way to protect your uniqueness, and gives you legal standing, should you ever need it.

While there, you can also grab an independent contractor template, the conference speaker template, or nondisclosure template, if needed.

HelloSign

Along the same lines, I use HelloSign to send contracts via email. There's nothing worse that scanning Word doc pages back and forth, is there? And do you ever skimp and send just the signature page rather than the whole doc, meaning it could really be the last page to just about anything? This is where HelloSign comes in handy.

For those of us who may only need something like this now and again, you can even get three, free uses per month. Regardless, HelloSign makes it super quick to upload or create docs, mark them for signatures, and send. It keeps the entire document together, gives you status updates, and best of all, makes electronic signatures legal. And bonus, you look like a pro and someone to be taken seriously.

 

G Suite

If you're running a professional organization, I beg you to use a branded email. This means, avoiding "generic" emails like Gmail, Yahoo, or something similar. Those kinds of things can cut it when you're only speaking to friends and family, but if you really plan on increasing your reach, and especially taking sales or donations, this just doesn't look good. 

Would you rather give a large donation or make a large purchase to company@gmail.com or customerservice@company.com? With all the data breach issues we've had over the last couple of years, my money is only going to places that I can verify, and I don't think I'm alone in that mindset.

G Suite is a simple and reasonably-priced way to brand your emails. My email technically flows through Gmail, but my URL is in the address, making everything look way more legit. Plus, there are a lot of other benefits that come with G Suite, like Google Drive, which makes storing and sending large files less complicated.

 

Freshbooks

Need to send invoices? Freshbooks is way to go because it's incredibly simple to use. In fact, it's so easy to use that sometimes I double-check it, thinking I missed one of the steps. Nope! 

I used to create invoices in Word or Excel and they didn't look all that great, took some time to edit, and I didn't like the way they were organized. I don't have that problem anymore! 

And I haven't really started utilizing it yet, but Freshbooks also has a time-tracking feature that I want to take advantage of this year. You can even store receipts in Freshbooks as well. 

Note that this isn't a full accounting suite, but it does the job for me.

MailChimp

To be completely honest, I have a mixed relationship with MailChimp. I have used them for years at previous jobs, and currently use them for Signify's email marketing, but that likely won't always be the case. However, for the vast majority of my clients at nonprofits and social enterprises, MailChimp does a good job. If you have pretty simple email marketing needs, and just need to send regular e-blasts, you'll do just fine with them.

I bring this up, though, because I've recently seen a couple organizations that still use Constant Contact, which frankly, I'm surprised is still in business. Their templates and blasts look years behind those sent by MailChimp and it's competitors. And, again, whether you like or not, looks matter. The content and design both speak to where your company ranks in people's minds, even without them realizing it.

Like I said, if you have pretty straight-forward email marketing needs, MailChimp can do the job. And another one of the reasons so many people use them is the affordable pricing. It's even free if you have under 2,000 subscribers, so there's little excuse. Of course, at this point, I'll remind you that you have to actually send emails to your database. But we'll leave that bigger rant till later in this series . . . 

 

Canva

Gone are the days when social media was new and we could just post some simple text online and call it a day. Photo, and especially video, are trends that aren't going anywhere. You need to get people to see what you're doing online, and graphics are one way to say, "Hey! Look at me!" And Canva can help.

Canva is another one of those genius ideas that I wouldn't have a clue how to build, but wish was my idea. It gives anyone the ability to create professional-looking graphics. And they're perfectly sized to wherever you need to post them! It's a free tool that you need to get on board with, if you haven't already. For those of us who don't have a designer on staff, or can't afford to pay someone for our regular, graphic needs, Canva is a lifesaver. 

 

Moo

Part of your business strategy likely includes networking events. And whether you're attending a three-day conference or a two-hour seminar, you need to show up with business cards—unless you don't want to talk to anyone, tell anyone about your organization, or have anyone follow-up with you about how they can support you. Umm, those criteria probably do not fit, correct? (Hope not!)

I attend a lot of conferences and events, and am always surprised when people say they'd like to get my info, or give me theirs, but they don't have business cards. Sure, we need them less and less in today's world, but guess what—we still need them sometimes! 

Moo is where I got my business cards, and I love them. They look (and feel) great, and because I originally needed them for a last-minute work trip, I also received them in just a couple of days. You don't have to order many, but I would suggest always having a few on hand.

And depending on your needs, you'll also find letterhead, greeting cards, stickers, and more on their site. I'm actually thinking of ordering some greeting cards with Signify's logo on them to use as thank you cards. 

 

As you can see, building a strong small business foundation includes a lot of different things. Sometimes you have to think in terms of legal compliance, and sometimes you just need to get with the times. Either way, I hope these seven simple tools help you.

What would you add?

 

Read the other posts in this series:



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Here are seven simple tools that build a strong  small business  foundation. Think of this as putting your best, professional foot forward. You may consider them to be the next progression of your nonprofit or social enterprise, or you may just think of them as resetting to zero because they've been on your list for a while. Either way, they'll not only up your game, but improve people's perceptions of your organization.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


A Comparison of 13 Popular Social Media Scheduling Tools

Anyone else ever feel like they're caught in a perpetual catch-22? As a small business owner, I feel that way A LOT. For example, I know I need to increase my website views because standard conversion rates are at about two percent, meaning if you have 100 people visit your site, only two will take whatever action you've designated for them, like purchasing, signing up for your email list, or making a donation. But I have so many other things on my plate that are also important. So, which do I choose? Which do you choose?

Even as a marketer, I know that I should be marketing my blog posts much more than I am actually writing them, but they both have to get done, so my time is always split. It's a common frustration many of us share, right?

There are, of course, a lot of ways to get traffic to your site, but for most of us, the day in and day out formula revolves around social media. And if you spend several hours writing a blog post, but only promote it on social media a couple of times, it could easily go to the internet graveyard. #RIP

So, what's the solution? I think it might be a social media scheduling tool, especially if you do not have someone who is solely dedicated to your social media strategy. There are a lot of popular options out there, and I took the time to review 13 of them. None were perfect (though some come close!), and several were quite similar, but I think you'll find some great choices for your nonprofit or social enterprise.

A Comparison of 13 Popular Social Media Scheduling Tools

First, let me address a hesitation you may be feeling, which I also had for months. This all sounds good, you agree with what I said, and you share the same frustrations, but you know it's going to cost money, which makes it feel more like a luxury, and something you should probably put off for "later." Sound familiar?

For those of us at small organizations, every dollar counts. And this is especially true for those of us running solo businesses or may even be all volunteer-led. We want to look more professional, but we also need to stick to our budgets. I get it, and like I said, I debated with myself about it as well.

However, recently, I've decided to put this in the "you've gotta spend money to make money" category. That, my friends, is unavoidable. And that's also what I'll be talking about for the next three weeks here on the blog.

In order to scale your nonprofit or social enterprise, you just have to be willing to put out some upfront cash knowing that it'll pay off in the long run. If I don't pay for the social media scheduling tool, I will either need to hire someone to manage my social media, or I will always be minimally promoting my blog posts, unless I slow my blogging frequency way down to make time in my schedule for it. 

Granted, my traffic will likely increase organically with time, but it will take a very long time. Like I said, there are certainly other options for increasing your traffic, but for everyday efforts, I think this is the way to go.

So, here we are. This is where I've arrived, and I wanted you to benefit from my research and experience. 

Two other things to note before we dig into the social media scheduling tools.

First, pretty much all of the services below have free versions and higher tiers, but as I am a small business who works mostly with small nonprofits and social enterprises, I had us in mind when I did my research. None of the free versions had the features I was looking for, so I knew I would have to pay. Prices below reflect annual plans, because that is cheaper than paying month-to-month. Also, if you are a nonprofit, most of them have discounts, so be sure to ask!

Second, in case you were wondering, it is always more effective to post "natively." So, for example, scheduling Facebook Page posts directly in Facebook. However, most of us just don't have the time to do this long-term or ongoing with our other responsibilities. But platforms will generally show your Tweets and posts to more people when they are published directly from their own site or app. I get it, I wish I could, but I just can't. 

 

THE WINNER: SMARTERQUEUE

My biggest priority for the search was having the ability to auto recycle content. Meaning, not just schedule Tweets and posts, but once the queue was empty, it would start all over again on its own. This really allows you to "set it and forget it," and just add new content as you go into the mix.

Cost: $17 per month

Pros: 

  • Auto recycling

  • Excellent amount of features without being overwhelming.

  • Works well with short-term promos. For example, you can set a post to expire after a certain date or number of times.

  • Drag and drop content calendar.

  • Utilizes categories for different types of content. (ex: quotes, promos, blogs, etc.). And each category can have its own schedule, and you can set a ratio of how often each category should be recycled. Categories can also be paused and customized per profile.

  • Has content curation features, which allow you to easily add new content from other places you follow or find, which aren't already part of your mix.

  • Easy set-up by analyzing your profile history and creating a schedule you can customize.

  • Helps you find a posting schedule based on analytics. It's always difficult to know "the best" time to schedule per social channel, and sometimes the "experts" disagree on when it is.

  • You an tag others in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

  • Has a competitor analysis feature so you can see what others like you are doing, and how they're performing.

  • Monitors the mentions you get from other social media accounts. Who doesn't love a shout out!

  • Easy migration from Edgar.

  • Smaller plans don’t have as many restrictions on features as some services.

  • 50% discount for nonprofits—wow!

Cons:

  • Doesn't auto schedule. It won't pick the best time to send your posts so you don't have to. Unless you are really good at reading analytics, this is a big guessing game. So, it's nice when a service chooses for you.

  • Can't upload video directly in the program at this time. I imagine they'll fix this soon, though, since video is winning the Miss Popularity contest right now. They do have workaround instructions in the Help section for now, though.

  • This one seems a little silly and stingy to me, but if you downgrade from a higher priced tier or cancel your account, there are no refunds. Most of the others offer this, I think, so I was surprised to see it.

Lots of pros, am I right? This was only the second tool I originally checked out, and I was pretty smitten with their site. It had enough information to keep me reading and interested, but no so much that I was overwhelmed. I'm really looking forward to using it! You can sign up right here with my affiliate link, which gets you a 30-day free trial instead of 14 days. (By the way, if you need help, my friend, Jennifer Wilder, can help get you set up. She did mine!)

(Update 5/7/18: This year, Twitter, Facebook, and it seems like every other social platform has introduced all kinds of new rules and regulations to keep haters, spammers, and fake newsers at bay. This is obviously a very good thing, but has also been a bummer for those of us who schedule social media using these third-party platforms. However, I'm still sticking with SmarterQueue for two reasons.

First, they have implemented "fixes" so that their software still works. Second, even though I know manually scheduling and posting will yield better results, I maintain my position that if posting frequently on social media is going to happen, then right now, it's going to happen through a scheduler. Maybe that'll change when Signify grows up a little more, but for now, here we are. And I'm grateful to SmarterQueue for their updates and fast, friendly customer service team.)

 

Edgar

Edgar came in at a tie for second place with Viraltag, but I'm listing it first because probably more people have heard of it. It is a really solid option.

Cost: $49 per month

Pros:

  • 30-day money-back guarantee

  • I feel like everyone I talk to that has it loves it.

  • Has content curation through a browser extension

  • Expiring content feature for limited-time promos

  • A bargain for larger businesses since there aren’t other tiers. I actually think they've come down in price since I seem to remember them being $79 when I've looked at them in the past.

  • Has categories

  • Getting started guides and a support forum

  • I've been on their email list for a few months, and find it helpful. I really love it when service providers like this have helpful forums and emails. :)

  • For those who’d like an extra special on-boarding experience, every Edgar account comes with free account setup assistance and a free social media strategy call!

Cons:

  • This is the most expensive option I looked at.

  • Doesn’t sync with Bitly, a link shortener, which I use a lot.

  • Sends performance reports, but no analytics at this point.

 

Viraltag

This was my other tie for second place. It was a much tougher decision once I'd narrowed it to these three! And if you're wondering how I arrived at these 13 social media scheduling programs when there are so many others out there, it was because I asked some social media pros I know as well as in some Facebook groups with social media managers and people more likely to use these kinds of tools. I actually hadn't heard of Viraltag until someone suggested it in one of the groups, and I was very impressed. I think you'll start to see it pop up more.

Cost: $24 per month

Pros: 

  • Learns the best times to post and which content drives more engagement—LOVE this!

  • Specializes in visual content, though you can have plain text posts for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

  • Connects with Google Drive and Dropbox and Canva

  • Provides image editing directly in their interface

  • You can customize images per network

  • Has the content calendar feature so you can see how everything fits together rather than just in a list.

  • Really helpful customer service chat, even on the weekend.

  • You can schedule a demo to begin.

Cons:

  • Not sure I like the interface as much from the little I saw on the site, but of course, this is a preference.

  • Managing Facebook Groups is "in the pipeline."

  • You have to manually handle any short-term promos, which means deleting them after you don't want them posting anymore.

  • The site says that this plan has only 30 days of analytics, but the customer service woman told me they could remove that restriction, so just be sure to ask.

Missing Lettr

This is another one I hadn't heard of until I posed the question to a social media manager Facebook Group, and I find it very fascinating. For the right person, I think it would be awesome. 

Cost: $15 per month

Pros:

  • It's good for people who need social support to keep their blogs out there circulating the internet. The gist is that it takes your blog post, cuts it up into bite-sized pieces, and distributes it over the course of a year to your social networks. Cool huh?

  • Looks extremely easy to use, and does a lot of the work for you. You do get to double-check and approve everything before it goes out.

  • It even suggests hashtags for you! #winning

Cons:

  • It does what it does, and that's it. So, it doesn't work with other promotions or content you may want to push. You'd need another service to manage that, or if that's a rare occasion for you, just post directly to your social networks as needed.

 

Social Jukebox

Okay, so your brain may not work the same as mine—fair assumption. This was one of those that several people recommended, but just didn't give me much of an impression after looking at it. It's a very simple site, which sounds like a good thing, except it didn't "sell" me. And because the website is so basic, I didn't really want to contact them with the dozens of questions I had.

Cost: $19 per month

Pros:

  • You can set targeted posts, which seems cool. (ex: send a birthday Tweet to someone every year, etc)

  • Has orientation video

Cons:

  • Again, I just didn't have much of an impression. However, for people looking for a straight-forward way to get the job done without bells and whistles, this will probably suffice. But, for a couple bucks less per month, look at how much more I'm getting with SmarterQueue . . .

 

Recurpost

Even though it's still somewhat basic, this site has a nice layout and design that worked for me. It didn't have all the features I wanted, but a solid option for people wanting to keep things simple while adding some oomph to their social or launch strategy.

Cost: $0-25 per month

Pros:

  • With so many services offering free accounts, you may be wondering why I put the goose egg in this cost category. That's because it actually offers some pretty good features for the free accounts, so if you are really concerned about the price of a social media scheduling tool, or want to start slow, you might check this one out.

  • They predict the best times for you to send, which is nice.

  • Seems like a fairly simple way to recycle posts.

  • Categories, calendar feature, and analytics

  • Has a knowledge base

Cons:

  • Even though it checked a lot of boxes for me, it didn't wow me. Obviously, this is just an impression, and not quantifiable. It may be just the thing you've been looking for.

Buffer

This is one of the more popular options. I've used it myself, once several years back on behalf of a nonprofit and also earlier this year for my Facebook Group (before you could schedule posts there). This is another pretty solid option, depending on your needs.

Cost: $10 per month

Pros:

  • Nice, low cost

  • Probably the simplest tool to set up and use

  • Has image editing and video uploading

  • Lots of resources (blog, emails, guides, webinars, FAQs) to help you get better, and to answer questions

Cons:

  • Less impressive

  • No categories

  • No recycling or auto scheduling

  • No analytics on lower plans

 

Hiplay

Hiplay serves as an add-on to Buffer.       

Cost: $5 per month

Pros:

  • For people who love Buffer, and they do have a big fan base, you can recycle your posts on a service you love without a lot of additional effort or training.

Cons:

  • You're now having to use two programs, yuck.

 

Hootsuite

This is one of the other big dogs on the social scene. I've used Hootsuite for many years, even just for my personal profiles before I had a legit business. Their free plan works pretty well, and served me for a long time. But it just isn't going to get the job done anymore, now that I need to step up my game.

Cost: $19 per month     

Pros:

  • Basic scheduler with analytics

  • Calendar view

  • Integrates with other apps

  • Auto schedules content

  • Analytics

  • 30-day free trial (That's a lot!)

Cons:

  • You get unlimited scheduling with paid plans, but they recently introduced limits on free plans.

  • Doesn't recycle content

  • Once you go past that $19 plan, you're looking at $99 per month!

 

Dlvr.it

They skipped adding some letters in their funky company name, but didn't repurpose them on their website. This is a super basic site, which just gives you the absolute minimum information. As such, it didn't impress me.

Cost: $9.99 per month

Pros:

  • Integrates with Google Analytics and Bitly, which is really nice.

  • It says it's "the easiest" way to post on Facebook and Twitter, so perhaps no explanation needed. ;)

  • Works with lots of social platforms, where others have more limited options.

  • Auto scheudling

  • Affordable

Cons:

  • I just don't know much about them because they didn't take the time to put it on their site.

Everypost

I'd heard of this one, but not much about it. And, honestly, there's not all that much to talk about, in my opinion. Some of the big plans seem to be good options for team collaboration, but I don't know many people that need that. 

Cost: $9.99 per month

Pros:

  • Customize content per channel, which is nice

  • You get 10 channels for $10 per month. Most of the plans I've been touting here are only for three to five profiles at that lowest price plan.

  • Unlimited scheduling. Some of the plans in this post have a limit as to how many posts you can schedule at that price, like 100, 500, or 1,000.

  • You can request a demo.

  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Analytics only for two profiles at that price

  • Nothing super special

 

Social Pilot

One of my friends who is a social media manager loves this one. And it does have quite a lot of features for the price tag.

Cost: $8 per month

Pros:

  • Excellent, affordable option if you don’t need auto recycling

  • Connects to Bitly and Canva

  • Calendar feature

  • Content suggestions if you need some help

  • Analytics

Cons:

  • Again, the big drawback for me was that it doesn't recycle content. I don't want the well to run dry, and me have to go set it all up again.

  • No categories

 

CoSchedule

I've been on their email list for probably at least a year. But if you aren't into marketing or really honing your social skills, it would probably just be overwhelming. They'd definitely fall into the "more is more" category. However, I do recommend their Headline Analyzer for writing titles.

Cost: $40 per month

Pros:

  • They definitely want you to be well-resourced through emails, blogs, webinars, etc.

  • Full marketing calendar available

  • Integrates with Wordpress, Google Analytics, Evernote, Google Docs, and more

  • Live demos regularly

  • Drag and Drop calendar

  • Categories

  • Recycles content

Cons:

  • Second most expensive option I looked at

  • Pricier plans have much more advanced features for entire marketing efforts, not just social

  • In all that information, I couldn't figure out how many profiles or posts the $40 per month got you.

  • Whereas some of the websites only had one or two pages that didn’t impress me or provide me with enough info, this one had so much it was kind of overwhelming to get the full picture. I can see growing into it maybe, but it’s just too robust for now.

  • With a plethora of features, I find it funny that it doesn't work with LinkedIn.

 

And one to grow on: Hopper

This one was also recommended in my research, but in looking at it, Hopper is only made for Instagram. However, it says it schedules "automatically," which I didn't think was possible. It's $19 per month for one account, so I'll let you check it out of Insta is your jam.

 

Whew—are you exhausted!?!? I am! But hopefully I saved you hours of research, or at least narrowed things down for you. A lot of it comes down to what you need, or think you'll need, as well as your preferences. 

Before you go, I want to leave you with a couple other things to consider:

  • While I don’t list every feature here, also take note of things like FAQs and support forums so you don’t always have to reach out to customer service, especially if you work a lot on the weekends when they may not be available.

  • If you are just starting to explore this idea, but aren't ready to make any moves yet, ask to get added to their email lists. Then you can learn more about the company, the culture, offers, and get more information about features. I love to see how people treat their email lists. #marketingnerd

  • If you are somewhat ready to make the leap, almost all of these services offer free trials with requiring a credit card. So, check them out, or at least poke under the hood. You can take a look at the systems and interface without having to upload a bunch of content.

  • Think long-term! This is super important. Look for options you think you might need or would be nice to have as you grow, so you don’t have to through the entire set-up process again. For example, even before I sent my first company email, I knew that I'd want to switch from MailChimp to ConvertKit at some point. But, in the interest of saving a few bucks and avoiding a learning curve when I was already overwhelmed, I went with MailChimp "for now." But I have kicked myself multiple times, and of course, every month goes by, and I will have more to set up later when I do make the switch! Ugh, I'm getting hives just thinking about it. Anyway, learn from my mistake!

See you out there in the social sphere! 

And don't forget to try SmarterQueue! Remember, my affiliate link gets you a 30-day free trial!

(PS: I am a busy solopreneur with limited time on my hands, so my friend Jen is the one who got me set up and running on Smarterqueue. She is available to help you too!)



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A social media scheduling tool might be for you,  especially  if you do not have someone who is solely dedicated to your social media  strategy . There are a lot of popular options out there, and I took the time to review 13 of them. None were perfect (though some come close!), and several were quite similar, but I think you'll find some great choices for your nonprofit or social enterprise.

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


12 Unique Launch Ideas You'll Want to Copy

Everyone wants to grab their piece of the pie when it comes to market share. No matter the business model, we all need money to keep the doors open and the lights on. But the competition is fierce . . .

In 2015, the United States Small Business Association noted that 400,000 small businesses opened that year—and about the same number closed. (This number includes nonprofits.)

And launches present their own opportunities and challenges in the life of a small business. On one hand, they're often exciting, and a great chance to build buzz and get people's attention. On the other hand, they're usually short-lived, so you have to make them count because they may only happen once, annually, or at most, a couple times per year.  So, if you have an event, product, fundraising or awareness campaign, book, or course launch on the horizon, pay close attention.

There are definite trends you want to ride when it comes to launches (ex: email sequences and social media blitzes), but you'll also need to be creative. Innovative ideas are more likely to make people take notice—and bring in the sales or donations. 

Below you'll find 12 unique launches ideas worth copying. But, here's my caveat: don't just copy and paste. Put your own spin on them. They'll only be successful if they align with your own social enterprise or nonprofit.

(PSST: This post is part of a series about launches. Read Part 1 and Part 2. Or take it to the next level with my launch strategy guide.)

12 Unique Social Enterprise and Nonprofit Launch Ideas You'll Want to Copy

Event Launch

Idea 1: Meet Ups

I was the Event Marketing Director for The Orange Conference for almost six years. And for several of those years, one of the ways we helped people get excited about it was to host local meet-ups all over the country. The catch: we didn't have staff all over the country. So, we let people in our tribe host them for us.

We hosted several here in Atlanta, as well as in locations across the US where we did have staff. But there were a lot of places we obviously couldn't reach on our own, and our fans were more than happy to jump in. They wanted to meet others like them in their hometowns, and we were thrilled they wanted to connect with each other. So, we provided downloadable flyers, social media images, guidance, and even allowed each gathering to give away a ticket to the upcoming event. So, whether people came to win a free ticket or to network with peers, we still got to build community and talk about our event. It was a really fun way to get our fans involved.

Idea 2: Membership

It can be very difficult to get and sustain momentum for your launch when your entire business model rests on one, big event. Yellow Conference is one of those. Yes, they have a regularly-updated blog, social media, and things like that, but in a sea of events, blogs, and social media accounts, your message can get lost or forgotten, even by your fans.

One of the ways they fight through the noise is the Yellow Collective. It originally began as a subscription box, which I thought was very clever for their business model. In its second year, it has evolved into a membership group that includes many of the original elements: in-person, at home, and online resources. And it also includes discounted tickets to their annual conference. They've done a really great job at keeping their community connected throughout the year so that, when it's event launch time, their fans are already primed and waiting.

Fundraising Launch

Idea 1: Get Out of the Office

Sometimes all you need to do is change the scenery. For Atlanta Dream Center's "48 in 48" Campaign, the founder of the nonprofit lived on the streets for two days. One of their three primary ministries is focused on homelessness, so it made perfect sense with their mission.

And because the founder had the past experience of being homeless himself, it magnified the story. He made the issue relatable and gave first-hand insight. Leading up to the event, a lot of buzz was generated among their supporters because it was not something you expected to see from the founder of an nonprofit. During the 48 hours, he also did a lot of Facebook Live videos so people could follow his experience, and that generated additional donations once people saw it in action. He talked about his life, what he was seeing, and interviewed others on the streets with him. It was a brilliant way to shed light on their cause.

Idea 2: Shared, Uncommon Experiences

Similarly, Nicholas House has an annual fundraiser where their supporters can sleep outside in an effort to raise awareness about homelessness. Each participant is asked to raise $2,500, taking some of the annual fundraising responsibilities off of the organization itself.

What I liked about this event, in particular, is that my friend who participated is a board member. Often, events like these attract more adventurous high school and college kids. But seeing adults with their own families involved was special. Yes, the environment is more controlled in this case than compared to above, but unless you're big on camping, sleeping outside on the ground without all the luxuries just isn't much fun. (At least in this girl's opinion.) And because of the individuals raising support, that provides more "social proof" for the organization because someone else is doing the talking, and her fundraising letter conveyed her heart and excitement for their work. That's not something you can force or buy.

 

Book Launch

Idea 1: Blog "Book Tour"

Unless you have the full might of a traditional publisher behind you, it can be difficult to get the word out about your book. And, even so, today's publishers want authors to take an active role in their own marketing. Enter the blog "book tour."

My friend Katrell, who owns Dr. Bombay's tea shop here in Atlanta, participated in one of these for her book. Even though it was set up by her publisher, it would be relatively easy to pull off for just about anyone. She didn't have a big name or a big audience, so this was a fantastic way to spread the word without a big budget to travel around the country to book signings and interviews. Instead, you'd just set up a series of book reviews or guest posts during a defined time period leading up to the book release, such as two or three months. This strategy definitely helped her sell books.

Idea 2: Galley Copies

If your social enterprise or nonprofit has one or more large events each year, you probably already know that it's best to release new products there, while you have a captive and engaged audience. But once-in-a-while, the timing just doesn't quite work out.

This was the case for the latest book by Growing Leaders about inspiring and mentoring today's students. So, what they decided to do was to give all 200+ attendees at their annual conference a galley copy of the book. This opportunity allowed them to talk about and promote the book, and build interest for it's release the following month. They also had a special pre-launch price with bonuses. Nothing replaces a face-to-face pitch, and by giving out galley copies, they were still able to capitalize on a live audience for future sales.

Awareness or Community-Building Campaign Launch

Idea 1: Recreate an Experience

Many of the causes that you all work on require you to protect those you help. Some of those include victims of sex trafficking, domestic violence, or homelessness. Not only do you want to avoid capitalizing on someone else's tragedy, but you want to keep them safe.

Street Grace launched Suburban Horror Story as a way to accurately portray the issue of sex trafficking for the community. You can watch videos online that are recreations of actual events, and also learn more about the issue. They also had "tours" to houses where arrests had been made and to show them what traffickers, victims, and warning signs look like, and what actually happens. This gave those in attendance (donors, potential donors, and media) an up-close look at the problem, and showed them how they could be involved in the solution. It is a very effective way to talk about the people behind the issues without actually involving victims.

But just the quality (and frankly, scariness) of the website did a lot to stir up interest for people to take a tour, learn more, and get involved in the work of Street Grace, or even donate to their cause. So, make sure that even when you're actually promoting an in-person event, that the promotional materials, like the website, do a good job in drawing people into your cause, and make them want to get involved. This site did a fantastic job. They could've just splashed up a single page with with stats and a description, but they definitely took it further to great results.

Idea 2: Take Advantage of (or Declare) a Holiday

I've talked about the idea of taking advantage of holidays—both official and unofficial—on this blog and my newsletter before, but it's always important to bring it up again. Because there are so many to choose from! People love celebrating special occasions, so take note of any that you can work into your launch plan. It often gives you a new way to talk about what you're doing.

There are, of course, plenty of legit options like Christmas, Halloween, and Fourth of July that might play nicely with your launch. #GivingTuesday to kick off your year-end giving campaign, anyone? Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Black History Month, and White Ribbon Against Pornography are a few others. However, there are plenty of wacky observances as well. For example, you can try World Kindness Day, Adopt a Rescue Pet Day, Digital Detox Day, or Read a Book Day. (There is literally a day for just about anything you can think of.)

And there may be even times when you need to create your own holiday. When I worked at Captain Planet Foundation, we created a Captain Planet Day. We had a formal ceremony down at Atlanta's City Hall, received a proclamation, and the whole nine yards. It was to celebrate a milestone in the foundation's history, but also garnered attention for the organization as we kicked off promotions for the annual fundraiser.

 

Product Launch

Idea 1: Giveaways and Contests

My friend, Jen, just wrapped her first successful Kickstarter for her physical product called the Hope Deck. One of the strategies she used to get attention for her campaign was by doing free giveaways on influencer social media accounts.

For example, she used both existing relationships and good ol' fashioned research to locate a handful Instagram accounts that fit her target market and were interested in doing a giveaway. She allowed them to give away a couple Hope Decks in exchange for pointing them to her account or campaign page. This allowed her to easily expand her audience, and when she was directly promoting that people fund the campaign, she had more eyes on what she was doing. It made a difference! 

Idea 2: Giveaways for Reviews

This isn't really a new trick, but I'm surprised at how little it's used, so I thought I'd bring it back up. I think most of us feel we need to bootstrap everything and get by on our own, but why? Getting help is often way better. Now, I do know that people often launch in a rush and that may be a factor. (That is definitely one way to sabotage your launch!) 

But when you can get someone else to talk about your launch—you should! Yes, sometimes you may have to pay people to review your product, but again, using existing relationships and research should also turn up plenty of free opportunities. There are so many blogs, magazines, newspapers, YouTube Channels, etc. A few of those leads are likely to respond and participate.

A client and I recently talked about this because she's launching soon. (Can't divulge yet, but it's gonna be cool!) She thought she would have to pay for people to review or talk about her product, but I named a handful of people in just a few minutes who would do it for free. Just put your thinking cap on, and I bet you'll come up with your own list too.

Tip: We often want to target the Oprah's of the world so we can make it to the top faster, but these folks are just plain hard to reach. Find people with a few thousand followers, or depending on your product, up to 100K followers. Sometimes those with bigger reputations get contacted very little so they're happy to participate. But often the "littler guys" rarely get contacted, would love to participate, and have a few thousand have very engaged fans who would love to hear about your product.

Course Launch

Idea 1: Facebook Groups

Facebook groups have become ALL. THE. RAGE. over the past couple of years. I even have one. But course creators are cleverly using them to their advantage now as well. Typically, they are meant to accompany an online course, or at least that's how I see a lot of those playing out. Especially when the courses are written or video-based, this allows the creator to interact with the students, and students to interact with each other. I am a member of a couple of these, and they're really fun.

But there are other ways to use them as well. Take the Myth of Balance, for example. Originally, it was released as a book. It's a very short, but actionable book. And, like most things, the information isn't the transformation—it's the action. So, the author created a Facebook Group to serve as the outlet for the course, which he refers to as a workshop series. Sample principles that I mentioned in the first paragraph, but much easier. He can release worksheets, weekly videos, polls and questions, etc, created right there to the group rather than having to build an online platform for the course. Much easier and more DIY.

In the Myth of Balance launch, we used a lot of traditional marketing techniques to get the word out initially. Most of the other course creators do the same. But the difference in having a Facebook Group is that you don't have people just sitting at home, having a great experience, and then moving on with their lives. You have people who've been interacting with the course creators and other students for a period of time, getting great results because they've had community and accountability built-in, and now you literally have a group of evangelists who will help you promote when you're ready to relaunch!

Idea 2: Involve Others and Let Them Promote

Putting a course or curriculum together is no joke. I plan to do it in the future, but find it overwhelming to think about. And then, when you have your shiny, new curriculum, you still have to get the word out! It's a long process.

But the folks at Plywood were really smart. They have a lot of knowledge and know-how on their staff. However, they also know one of their strengths relies in their ability to connect people and showcase others. So, for their video-based curriculum course, they featured not only the founder, but individuals from their Plywood People Community. Each module features different social entrepreneur interviews talking about that week's lesson and showing it in action.

Besides making it easier on themselves as far as content creation, Plywood now also has a group of people willing to help promote it because they are featured. This was especially helpful for the first launch when it was brand new. The people in the video are founders that are known in the Atlanta-area, with their own distinct audiences, so it helped get the word out quickly about this course.

By now you'll definitely notice a common theme in recruiting others to help you spread the word. It's just one of those techniques that can look so different each time, but is always effective.

 

What about you? What unique launch ideas have you come across? I'd love to hear them!

(PSST: This post is part of a series about launches. Read Part 1 and Part 2. Of if you’re ready to take it to the next level, check out my launch strategy guide, Promote With Purpose.)



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Have an event, product, fundraising or awareness campaign, book, or course launch on the horizon?There are definite trends you want to ride when it comes to launches, but you'll also need to be creative. Innovative ideas are more likely to make people take notice—and bring in the sales or donations.

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.