Social Listening as a Nonprofit Organization

Many organizations with an online presence will recognize that it is essential to consistently practice social monitoring in order to build a solid reputation and following on their social media channels. Traditionally, social monitoring is considered a fairly straightforward process that entails keeping track of social media mentions and conversations surrounding your organization. While this practice is important, the best social media managers know that the buck doesn’t stop with social monitoring alone: it’s social listening that’ll really take your digital communications strategy to the next level.  

Social Listening

Social listening is a two-part process that begins with the monitoring of your organization’s media channels for any stakeholder feedback, direct mentions of your organization, and discussions surrounding specific topics, keywords, and competitors related to your industry. The second step is where we conduct an analysis of the information and use the insights gained to act on emerging opportunities and trends.  

The difference between social monitoring and social listening lies in the actionable responses you make to your social media strategy as informed by your analysis. Social listening asks you to dig deeper into your media monitoring and understand the root causes behind social conversations, then act on those opportunities. 

As a non-profit organization, how can social listening impact your social media strategy?

Nonprofit Social Strategy

Firstly, consider the goal of any non-profit organization: being of service to others. All non-profits share the same strategy to enact social good for the benefit of the communities around them. Therefore, it is important to maintain a stakeholder-centric mindset to your organizational practices, and social listening does just that. Social listening dictates that rather than making assumptions about what your stakeholders want or need, you hear exactly what they are saying and respond accordingly.  

Secondly, social listening prepares your organization to make thoughtful and informed responses to any criticism you or your industry might face. The mission of many non-profit organizations seek to address controversial themes or issues related to social justice. Maintaining a social media platform sometimes comes with the challenge of conflicting perspectives. Awareness of these types of comments is important, but what can really make an impact is using them as an opportunity to understand differing perspectives and then meet those perspectives with a thoughtful response.  

Finally, by performing social listening you can create the kind of content your followers want by continuously shifting your strategy to fit current trends. What are your peers and competitors doing, and how do their audiences respond in return? What is the current social or political climate like in your sector, and how can you create content inspired by these trends that provide value to your audience?

By consistently practicing social listening, your organization will level up their online presence and better serve your audience with the right content at the right moment! 

7 key social media metrics nonprofit organizations need to track and be aware of

The value of data is a concept that is well understood by nonprofit organizations and charities. Data helps to demonstrate the impact your organization is having in the community, supports the development of new programs, and is key to support funding requests. However, most nonprofit organizations are not tracking the key metrics that can really make a difference when communicating online.

Analyzing your social media analytics on a regular basis is the best way to gain insight into the impact and influence that your content is creating on your audience. This might seem like a daunting task at first, but we’ve broken the most commonly used metrics used when assessing social media performance to get you started! 


Reach is a term commonly used by social media managers to describe the potential audience that your content will be exposed to. This is determined by your follower count; if your account has 3,000 followers, then your reach is potentially 3,000 people. 


Exposure measures the reach of your followers, that is to say, how many people are following the people who follow you. This metric is important, as every time your content is shared by one of your followers, it is now exposed to an entirely new group of people, also known as an ‘impression’.  


Engagement tracks how your audience is interacting with your content, and is measured differently, depending on the platform that you are using. For example, on Instagram, engagement is tracked by measuring the number of likes and comments that a post receives. On Twitter, engagement is measured by the number of replies, likes, and retweets. Most platforms have tools to track the level of engagement a profile is receiving.   


Mentions is a metric that refers to the number of times that your organization’s name, hashtag, or keywords are used across social media. This is a useful metric, as you can use it to further determine the level of engagement and invested interest that your audience has towards sharing your content, thus expanding your reach.  


Traffic refers to how people find your profile, and it is used to determine whether or not your social media account encourages your followers to visit your organization’s website. Monitoring this metric can help you to better understand which types of content generate the most traffic, thus helping you to prioritize the right content for the most optimal results in the future.  

Audience growth rate

Audience growth rate helps to determine how your following is increasing or decreasing over time. Tracking this metric is fairly easy–record the number of new followers you’ve gained in a month, divide that number by the current overall number of followers, and then multiply by 100 to get the percentage rate. For example, if your account gained 50 new followers this month and your new overall number of followers is 2000, then the equation would be: 50 ÷ 2000 × 100 = 2.5% audience growth rate.  Tracking this number over time will provide an indication of how effectively your content is attracting new followers.


Influence is a metric that can be hard to measure, as it is an aggregate of several factors and can be somewhat subjective. Influence score is determined by how people respond to your content, the reach that your brand has relative to the space that you are operating in and can be understood as ‘share of voice’. It is important to have a broad awareness of the organizations that are similar to yours when determining influence, and track how your influence is growing over time.

We recommend conducting monthly audits for each social media account and keeping record of the changes you make that result in better performance. There are tools that can be leveraged to support the tracking and reporting of these metrics, and we mention a few of them in our previous blog post.

By understanding these 7 key social media metrics, you can work to optimize your strategy for creating and sharing content online and ensuring that you’re speaking to the right audience.   Good luck!

Tools for Nonprofit teams to collaborate remotely

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a number of impacts on non-profit organizations, perhaps most notably, forcing organizations to rapidly adapt to a “digital-first” environment. For organizations that have operated primarily in-person for years, this rapid shift has caused a lot of disruption, and for many organizations, the shift is still ongoing. Thankfully, there are many tools that organizations can leverage to help their employees work more effectively remotely.

Here are three tools that can help your team collaborate more effectively remotely. These tools are flexible, affordable, and highly scalable for teams of any size:

Notion describes itself as an all-in-one workspace for notes, tasks, wikis, and databases. This description is not an exaggeration, as Notion is almost endlessly flexible. For organizations that don’t have the benefit of a cloud-based platform like Office 365, or an intranet, this can become a great tool for sharing resources and managing projects. Coda is another company that provides a very similar solution, and both products have a free version.

Airtable has become one of our most recommended tools for organizations looking for an affordable project management solution. I often describe Airtable as “excel on steroids”. Airtable allows customers to create flexible databases, and is a loaded with features to adjust to your needs and working style. Functionally, this looks like combining a kanban board, calendar, gantt chart, spreadsheet, and image gallery. Notion and Coda offer similar features, and Smartsheet is a fairly robust database tool, but Airtable is truly in a category on its own.

At this stage in the pandemic, email fatigue is a real risk and may be impacting the productivity of teams. Team communication solutions like Slack offer an affordable (free) way for teams to reduce inbox clutter and stay connected. The tool is a messaging service, that allows you to create rooms for teams, message team members individually, collaborate on documents, and search through the history of messages to find what you need. It functions very similarly to Microsoft Teams, but without having to integrate into the full office ecosystem, which may appeal to some organizations.

With any tool, there is going to be an onboarding period and some growing pains. Adoption of a new way of doing things is never easy. However, if organizations position themselves with the most current technology, and learn to take advantage of these advances, they will be better equipped to weather massive disruptions, and transition more smoothly.

Non-profit Communication in a Post-COVID world…

COVID-19 has had a considerable impact on the non-profit landscape, and those impacts will ripple well into the future. It has changed how many organizations deliver programming, impacted how organizations fundraise, and has increased the necessity for organizations to communicate consistently through digital channels. Research conducted by Imagine Canada in July 2020, revealed that 54% of charities transitioned their in-person programs online since the beginning of the pandemic. Considering lockdown restrictions are still in place in much of the country, the number has undoubtedly increased.

In many ways, it could be argued that the transition to online delivery of programming, and a work from homeculture was inevitable. With access to internet having been declared a human right in Canada, organizations could have been far more proactive in developing strategies for remote program delivery. For that reason, I would suggest that COVID-19 simply exposed the weaknesses that were already present within organizations, and increased the urgency to respond. 

The mission of Trotman Communications is to help nonprofits to build healthier, thriving communities–we believe that effective communications is a cornerstone of that goal. In that spirit, here are three tips for non-profit organizations operating in a post-covid world, to help you communicate more effectively with your clients, funders, and other key stakeholders:

1. Create a plan

Man writing a planning document
A man that does not plan far ahead will find trouble at his door – Confuscious
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that there is no substitute for a well thought out plan.  And, regardless of the circumstances, a good plan contains a few key elements.


What is the result that you’re looking to achieve?
A goal is meant to be somewhat aspirational. It will describe the end that you are trying to achieve, and serve as a guiding star for all of the actions that you intend to take. Think big.


How will you track your progress towards that result?

Whereas your goal is the end that you’re trying to meet, effective measures allow you to evaluate your progress along the way. These should be specific, measurable, action oriented, relevant, and timely. Effective objectives will allow you to take a big, audacious goal (like managing a pandemic response), and break it into smaller, more manageable pieces.


What actions are you taking to achieve your goal?

Your tactics could be any number of tools, strategies or techniques that you are using to achieve your goal. From a communications perspective, this could include social media campaigns, media relations, ad buys, or events. 

Timelines / Milestones

How long are you giving yourself to achieve that result?

Timelines provide a roadmap, for when you will implement your tactics, and milestone describe major events that will influence the plan. This could include launch dates, end dates, or any days that are relevant to your organization (e.g. awareness days).


Who do you need to be in contact with to achieve that result?
You’re not in this alone!  There are a variety of stakeholders that will influence the development of your communications plan. This could include staff members, clients, government officials, or the media. Develop a list of stakeholders that are relevant to your project–this may even support the creation of new tactics that you can apply.
These are only a few elements to consider, but even a basic communications plan is better than no plan at all.

2. Know your audience and where they “live”


Mobile Phone


For some organizations it makes sense to be on every social media channel, and for others, even having just a LinkedIn page for potential applicants may suffice. Organizations need to know where their audience “live”–this includes clients, employees, partner organizations, and other relevant stakeholders. 

Knowing where your audience lives means that you can speak to them when the time is right, but also allows you to listen in on the conversation. Both speaking and listening are key to being a proactive organization.

3. Find points of collaboration

Puzzle pieces

COVID-19 has fundamentally shifted how some organizations deliver programming.

By bringing programming online, it has in some ways eliminated the geographic borders that once dictated who an organization delivered programming to. Individuals that may not have had the opportunity to attend programs in the past, may no longer have that barrier! 

This has also opened the opportunity for diversifying programming through cross-collaboration. Similar organizations with complementary clients can share content online, and amplify the benefit. 

Have you considered allowing a partner organization to share your content?

It’s unclear when these COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted, and what life will look like afterwards. However, it’s pretty safe to say that we’ve entered a new age, and it’s unlikely that we’ll ever be able to completely return to the “normal” way of doing things. 

In this age where in-person interactions are limited, people are online more than ever, and habits have fundamentally shifted, organizations need to get comfortable with communicating their value, and potentially introducing themselves to a whole new group of people.