(Photo by Cesar Carlevarino Aragon)

So much of what an association produces involves or revolves around content. 

There are learning courses, conference panels, blog posts, newsletters — both digital and on paper, case studies and white papers. That’s not even to mention all the social media: LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and whatever else is next on the horizon for how we all connect with each other. 

Regardless of your association’s staff size, managing all of this content can feel like a full-time job. Who’s doing what — and when — means thinking about and seeing clearly both the trees and the forest all at the same time. 

Luckily, you’re not the first person to try to navigate the ever-growing list of content formats and how to organize your work around them. That’s why, through our own research and suggestions from association professionals, we’ve developed this list of content strategy tools to help you tackle your projects in a more seamless and effective way. 

Know of any tools that should be on this list but aren’t? Let us know! 

Calendar tracking

One of the most basic systems of keeping track of when and where projects are is through calendar tracking. Not only are you able to see the bigger picture — when’s the next conference? Don’t we have internal meetings that day? Are there any holidays coming up? — but you’re able to see how your content strategy fits into and around it. 

Asana: This tool allows you to manually create a workflow for your projects. That way, individual users can move their projects from one mile-marker to the next, and everyone can interact within the system to offer suggestions or ask questions. With options to view projects here as lists, calendars or a storyboard, it’s great for different kinds of learners, too. Bonus: The basic version is free, so you can get a feel for it before having to pony up some cash. 

Trello: Like Asana, you can use Trello to organize lists, boards and cards for various projects. It’s also got some fun personalization, so you can add pictures of mountainous landscapes to your background. You know, besides the one representing how much work your next project will entail. The basic version is also free, and it can integrate into other productivity apps you might be using.

Internal communication

What good is a great content strategy if no one is talking to each other about it? Gone are the days when you needed to send 47 emails in a single day just to get a team of people to agree on the wording for a specific headline or paragraph. Instead, jump into a chat with only the people who really need to be involved, or throw something out to the entire office. Thanks to group chat tools, you can have chat rooms dedicated to specific departments, only the executive or just a private conversation with a friend down the hall about your kids’ soccer game. The best part? You can implement the use of a chat tool in a single department, so you can show the rest of your organization how helpful it is without having to get buy-in from the entire staff. 

Slack: This app essentially rules the land of workplace chat right now. With an easy to use app that you can either log into from a web browser or download straight to your computer or phone, it’s pretty much wherever you need it to be. You can create public and private “channels,” or chat rooms, so you can organize conversations around specific projects or departments, as well as the ability to direct message anyone on your team. There’s a free version, but Slack can get pricey if you need to use it for file sharing. 

Rocket.Chat: Free and open-source, Rocket.Chat can be personalized to your company, if you have the kind of software development staff that could tackle that kind of project. If not, the basic system can still offer your association the typical chat functionality plus audio and video conferencing. 

Social media

Most organizations today have at least one social media account to keep up with, which means creating an endless stream of content to engage potential new members, current members and other stakeholders. Automate this process by using a social media manager so you don’t have to manually upload every post. These also help typically offer a beefed up analytical examination of your audience so you can see potential new areas for growth.

Buffer: While not the most visually appealing platform, Buffer does offer the most bang for your buck, if you choose to upgrade beyond the free version. With analytics that can help guide your publishing decisions, Buffer can help you organize content around multiple social media platforms, including LinkedIn, which is a rarity on social media managers. 

Later: If your content is primarily visually-driven, Later might be helpful to you. Its content gallery means you don’t have to upload graphics separately for each platform, and it’s got a pretty layout that’s fun to work within. Premium priced versions also include a handy hashtag suggestion tool. 

Hootsuite: This tool allows you to engage with your audience through replies and comments from one platform, which can be helpful if you don’t prefer to log into and out of each platform. 

Chelsea Brasted is the writer and editor who serves as content manager for AssociationSuccess.org. A former reporter and breaking news editor for The Times-Picayune, she lives in New Orleans with her husband and two rescue dogs.

Chelsea Brasted is the writer and editor who serves as content manager for AssociationSuccess.org. A former reporter and breaking news editor for The Times-Picayune, she lives in New Orleans with her husband and two rescue dogs.

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