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Top tips for creating social media content with minimal resources and budget

22 October 2021

Content creation is time-consuming. From initial idea creation to crafting the post and graphics, there’s a lot involved. Small comms teams and charities have the extra challenge of doing all this on a tiny budget with minimal resources.

Just Like Us’ independent research has found that LGBT+ young people are twice as likely as their non-LGBT+ peers to be bullied and to worry about their mental health on a daily basis. These findings have been the driving force behind our work in comms. Our comms team – myself (social media officer) and my manager, Amy (director of comms and media) – turns one later this year. Even now, with a two-person team dedicated to comms and media, working within a relatively small charity with a small budget has its limitations, especially when trying to create impactful content in an area with so much public attention.

Here are our top tips for small teams…

Choose your platforms wisely

One of the early steps in creating our strategy was deciding which content worked best on each platform. We came to the conclusion that Twitter and Instagram would become our main focus.

After some experimentation with content on each of our platforms, we found that educators tend to be more present and engaged in talking about resources on Twitter, whereas younger users engaged well with our campaigns and content on Instagram. Therefore, we aim our Twitter content at school staff and the general public and our Instagram content towards LGBT+ young people and potential allies. We’re also beginning to delve into TikTok, however it’s a time-consuming platform, so we’ve strategically chosen to focus more on the platforms where we’ll get the most engagement from users that we need to reach.

When time is tight, we share similar content across channels but change up how we present it – for example this article by a volunteer worked well as a tweet and as an Instagram post by adapting the content’s format.

Plan ahead

Something I always try to do is have our social content (especially the more time-intensive Instagram work) ready a week ahead. Although this isn’t always achievable as a small team, it helps to have a bank of content ready to go where possible. Of course, things can be quick to change and last-minute events do crop up, so make sure you create some evergreen content that isn’t tied too much to specific dates or awareness periods.

The planning begins with our calendar, which includes LGBT+, youth-focused and educational awareness days. We also take into account our own campaigns, any press pieces we have coming out and what our call-to-action is that week.

Our content usually performs best around awareness days, such as Bisexual Awareness Week, Lesbian Visibility Week and Pride Month, and when posts include heartfelt messages and statements.

With Instagram, we tend to post three times per week, which is manageable and also keeps the infamous algorithm happy (providing we frequently share content to our story too). Our posts usually contain multiple panels, sharing stories from our LGBT+ volunteers, events for young people and tips for potential allies.

On Twitter, we post between three to five times per day, sharing press pieces, awareness day content and calls to action. We spread these posts throughout the day, hoping to catch people before work, during lunch and after work.

Use tools to lift the load

Currently, we create the majority of our content using Canva, which is a quick, easy and low-cost way to create engaging social media content. Canva lends itself well to the youth-oriented content we produce for Instagram, due to the playful graphic and animation features on the platform.

We schedule content through the scheduling tools on the desktop versions of each of the channels we use. We’ve tried third-party software previously but we found their tools somewhat limited, compared to what’s on offer in Creator Studio and TweetDeck.

Let go of perfectionism 

It’s a fine balancing act – some months you’ll be able to put lots of time-consuming work out there and some months you’ll need to be more reactive and creative with adapting content to work for different channels. That’s the nature of comms, especially in a small team.

Achieving a balance is all about working out your priorities (something I’m still working on) and also making sure you manage expectations – it’s okay to say no. People outside of comms don’t always know what goes into a tweet or Instagram post and that’s okay. Just remember to let people know when you’re unable to take on new work and why.

A good way to set boundaries and expectations is to block time out in your calendar when you’ll be working on certain projects, or leave an auto-reply on your email to let people know if you’re unable to respond immediately.

Measure your successes

Measuring success can be tricky when it comes to social media as there are so many variables. Success also depends on the aims of each individual post – do we want to encourage comments? Do we want to guide people to a sign-up page? Do we want people to share something?

Every week, I go through our four most-used channels (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn) and make a note of impressions, likes, comments, shares and follows, comparing these numbers to the previous week’s stats. I then outline the learnings from this analysis and share the findings with my manager, which gives a good overall impression of which content is working and which isn’t.

It is, however, always important to remember that there will be peaks and troughs. For example, Just Like Us receives the most engagement during our School Diversity Week campaign in June – which also coincides with Pride Month – making those weeks particularly successful, leaving the following weeks to look less impressive in comparison.

Celebrate the small wins

Our social media posts usually garner a positive reaction (aside from the handful of accounts that ‘disagree’ with our work supporting LGBT+ young people). It’s amazing to read encouraging comments and see our content shared by others, especially the content that’s produced in tandem with our 18 to 25-year-old LGBT+ volunteers who share their stories.

Don’t be disheartened – not every week can be your best week and with social media, it’s often about the small, everyday wins that accumulate into making your comms successful.

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Banner Image: Gina Smith on Unsplash

Malik Haddington-Ahmed

Social media officer, Just Like Us

Malik (he/him) creates social media content for Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people's charity. He supports the Director of Comms and Media, working to develop the online presence of the charity and platform the voices of the LGBT+ young people they work with. Malik volunteered as a Just Like Us ambassador before joining the staff team in 2020.