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5 tips and 5 totally free tools to elevate your digital presence

Posted By Jess Gillis, November 17, 2017
 Grassroots Groups in Toronto

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes | Written by Jess Gillis, Volunteer Toronto's Communications & Administrative Assistant

 

Grassroots groups and non-profits are often strapped for resources, and it's not uncommon for volunteers, members and staff to wear many hats. Is your Kitchen Assistant managing your website? Are you tweeting two weeks' worth of content at 2 a.m. on Friday because that's the only time you have to do it?

Some say, "Never judge a book by its cover," but many of us still do. The same can be said for your online presence. Not everyone is going to care if your Facebook cover photo is badly cropped and pixelated, but ignoring comments, having impossible-to-find contact information, or being invisible on Google may cost you clients, followers and/or legitimacy. If this sounds familiar, these tips and tools are here help.

 

Five tips

Get branded

Getting branded is less painful than it sounds. Your organization's brand is essentially colours, fonts, shapes, messaging, language and–ideally–a logo that represents your mission, vision, values and voice. Even selecting colours and fonts to use consistently can improve your digital image and reputation. If you'd like to dive deeper into, check out this resource.

Have a website

Your website doesn't have to be fancy, or complicated, but it should exist. Think of it as your central hub that holds your contact information, links to your social media, information about your organization, and even a "donate" button. When you're out connecting with folks, you can simply direct them to your site. While it's not free, consider registering a custom domain for your site (they cost around $15 per year).

Get on social media

Social media can be intimidating, even for us pros. Though it can ask a lot in terms of time and energy, it also gives back, like a platform for conversation, and unique insights into your crowd. Social media platforms are super accessible to anyone with a device and wifi, and entire social movements are being built there.

Maximize your socials

Social media works best when you have a large–or a smaller, but highly engaged–network. The most effective way to achieve that (without a huge budget) are to provide the following:

  • Good quality content — Relevant to your audience's interests and the channel (e.g. GIFs on twitter, photos on Instagram)
  • Strong engagement — Responding to comments and messages, directing your audience with calls-to-action (e.g. "tag a friend who would cuddle this cute dog!"), and most important: listening to your audience so you know what they like and what they don’t!
  • Consistency — If you're radio silent for 3 weeks then post 10 things in 10 minutes on Facebook, your content will get lost and your audience will get confused. (Also, Facebook's algorithms like around 1 post per day).

Schedule!

Lastly, make a calendar like this one and plan when you’ll post certain content for your website or socials. Use your spare time to bank content (articles, links, event postings, etc.) for the week, or even the month ahead, and use an app or website (listed below) to schedule it on social media. Then, hop online during your commute or when you have a spare minute and share, retweet and respond to inquiries. Use free tools like Google docs and Trello to stay organized and communicate with your team.

 

Five tools

Canva

Canva is an accessible tool with pre-made templates for all of the common social channels, in addition to free images, clip art and fonts. They also have a wide selection of templates for printed assets, like brochures, envelopes and posters. Canva has a free option for non-profits that allows you access to the upgraded premium option for free (it's well worth it to upload your brand colours and fonts, and use the "magic resize" function).

Check out these tutorials:

Wix

Need a website? Wix is a great free option. With intuitive drag and drop functionality and hundreds of free templates and apps to choose from, its HTML-based sites are also optimized for mobile. It's also super easy to preview what your site will look like live. Click here for a quick intro lesson.

Hootsuite

This amazing tool allows you to schedule and share content to a variety of different social media channels. It also allows you to set up custom lists and channels–so you can monitor, say, all tweets about penguins–AND gives you access to data so you can benchmark your communications efforts.

Stock images

You should almost never be posting content without an accompanying image. Images draw people in and give you an additional way to tell stories and express your message. Below are five recommended sites to find stock photos:

Free Fonts

Like images, fonts also speak to your audience. Square, solid fonts may convey a message of strength and power, whereas a flowy brush script font may evoke a more free-spirited, creative vibe. These are a few tested and true sites for free font downloads:

 

Remember! You don't have to jump into every social media channel, app, or website builder right away. Some of these tips and tools may work for you, some may not. Maybe the conversation you want to have is on Twitter, or maybe you have a visual presence that would do better on Instagram or Pinterest. Start small, and build your presence as your knowledge and capacity grows.

 

Jess is the lovely voice that greets those who phone us and the smiling face that welcomes the public to our office. She also assists our Marketing and Communications Manager with the management and evaluation of our social media channels. 

Check out her website.


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