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Not On My Budget: 5 Tips for Running a Successful Social Media Plan on a Non-Profit Budget

On May 17 I will be joined by Spectrum’s longtime client and partner RESOLVE as we present at the PRSA Health Academy (#prsahealth) in Philadelphia. The presentation (“Media Integration: Reach Your Audiences on a Nonprofit Budget”) will discuss RESOLVE’s partnership with Spectrum to plan, launch and manage a successful social media program on a non-profit budget. We are talking a true shoe-string budget, one we had to stick to.

For those of you attending the PRSA Health Academy this year, I highly recommend joining this discussion (plus, I don’t want to speak to an empty room…). But for those of you who can’t make it, I thought I would provide a few pearls of wisdom to guide you if you’ve found yourself in the challenging position of managing a social media program on a tight budget.


  1. Go in with a plan | One of the biggest mistakes non-profits make with social media is assuming that it’s free, so they should just jump right in. Conducting some online listening in your space can help you identify influencers online, where they are located and what they are saying to allow for better connections.
  2. Work with what you got | Is your communications team already managing some online assets? Can you direct traffic to them if you start up new social media channels? What are you doing on the traditional side that could be used online? Remember that social media is about starting a dialogue and you have been talking with your constituents for years already, so use that to your advantage.
  3. Make a schedule | One of the worst things you can do is overload your social media outreach the first month you are engaged only to do nothing the next two months. It is important to engage with your base on an ongoing basis, rather than push out a large amount of content periodically. Making sure you have a planned engagement calendar mapped out for a year can save you heartache and money down the line.
  4. Forge connections | You are not out there alone. There is likely a world of people who are already engaged with the cause and share your concerns. Connect with them and leverage the assets they have to help promote it.
  5. Track your progress | Oftentimes, social media programs are deemed a waste of money and dropped because of the failure to track assets, share of voice, engagement, registration numbers and other data before a campaign versus after a campaign. Forgetting to keep a record of this data can make even the greatest social media program look lackluster. Evaluating your program is of course part of Public Relations 101, and social media is no different.

If you’re in Philadelphia in May for the Health Academy and want to talk about any of these points, just let me know. I’ll be attending all three days of the event; you can follow me on Twitter at @lafauce. Hope to hear from you!

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