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Stop wasting your time on social media

Are you wasting your time on social media? If any of these points sound familiar, you are very likely wasting your time:

  • You’ve left social media content to your resident ‘techie’ or intern to manage
  • Your organisation has opened accounts on multiple social media channels, but you’re not sure why
  • You open a new Twitter account when you want to tweet about a campaign or event
  • You have less than 100 Facebook or Twitter followers, despite having accounts for more than six months
  • Your social media posts have little or no engagement from your followers
  • You only use your accounts to talk about your own work
  • You don’t track social media metrics or website traffic
  • You’re working without an online media strategy.

If even one of these hits home, you need to re-think your online media plan. If it’s more than a few, then you really are wasting your time. Here are some red flags to consider:

  • If you are not working within an overall communications strategy, you are wasting your time on social media.
    It goes further than this: your website is likely ineffective as well. If you don’t know why you’re posting on social media or trying to communicate with your website, how can you be successful?

  • If you are not monitoring and evaluating your social media work to gauge its effectiveness, you are wasting your time on social media.
    Are you defining success as 10 likes or 100 likes, or is it more important that people are clicking through to your website? Without having a goal and then tracking the reach and engagement on your social networks, how do you know if your investment is worthwhile?

  • If your interns are managing your Facebook and Twitter feeds, you are wasting your time on social media.
    After all these years I still encounter nonprofits who inexplicably leave their social media work to their interns or ‘techies’ to manage. This completely disregards the level of communication skills required and trivialises social media work. When people managing your online media lack the required professional skill, you risk damage to your brand.

Your social media manager (yes, your organisation should have a social media manager) must have a clear and solid understanding of your work and your brand and be an effective online voice for your organisation. Read more on Managing your social media staff.

  • If your social media manager does not fully understand your programme objectives, you are wasting your time on social media.
    Perhaps because senior managers are not necessarily engaged in social media themselves, or at least do not appreciate how it can be used in a professional context, there is often a disconnect between the work an organisation does and its social media platforms. Ideally, programme staff and senior management should be actively engaged in social media as they are best placed to engage in conversations about the issues you care about, what you are going to do about them, and get your organisation’s core message across.

Now, just because you may be wasting your time doesn’t mean you should stop using social media altogether.

Quite the opposite. Even if you already have an established website and social media accounts, going through a review process will help you improve your online presence, and understand how online media integrates into your work and your organisational programme strategies.

Develop an online media strategy that aligns with your organisational strategy and helps outline the big picture of what you are trying to achieve, and then develop a plan to implement the strategy. This would help ensure that instead of wasting your time, your time spent on social media is efficient and effective.


Ruen Govinder | Hashtag Nonprofit

Founder and Executive Director, Hashtag Nonprofit

Ruen Govinder is the founder and director of Hashtag Nonprofit. She has over 20 years of experience in consulting and managing online communications and technology for the development sector. She produced a series of e-books on communications strategies for nonprofits, and has worked with clients across Africa and in the United States.

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