“You’ve come a long way, baby.” Five minutes into the session — How to Apply Social to Membership & Marketing – and several attendees had already shared social media lessons and tips. Imagine sitting in this same session three years ago: I bet the only one sharing would have been the session leader, Maddie Grant, CAE, Chief Social Media Strategist at Socialfish. But today at the Avectra Users & Developers Conference, many association professionals had social media stories and advice to share.
Some associations are at the beginning of their social media journey. One person asked, “Where do we start?”
- Assess your situation. Find out which platforms your members use.
- Use a social discovery tool, like Small Act, to upload your email list and find out where your members have profiles.
- Start by listening and learning.
- Create a cross-departmental task force that develops social media strategy, guidelines, messaging style and content. Or, one person can be solely in charge of social efforts, monitor member conversations, and get content from other departments that meets member needs.
- Remember, your number of followers is not as important as the quality of your engagement and the value you provide.
- Maddie suggested building your Twitter audience by following the right types of people: people who are on the same lists as you, people your followers follow, people using industry hashtags and participating in industry chats, and trade press.
Many associations start with LinkedIn because their members are there. Apply to LinkedIn to get admin rights to your company page. People who follow your page will get your updates in their LinkedIn newsfeed – a good way to reach members who don’t use other social platforms.
- Brand your page.
- List your services.
- Add staff to the page.
- Update with blog posts, videos, webinar and conference news.
Social CRM and workflow
Social CRM is “applying social data to member management.” Build social media into your workflow.
- Include fields in your CRM for member (and prospect) Twitter handles, LinkedIn profiles, etc. Ask for that information in membership applications, renewal forms and event registrations.
- Launch a campaign to update member profiles. Make those social fields “required” even if that means members selecting “don’t have” or “don’t want to share” as an option.
- Pre-build shortened URLs for social media use so you can track incoming traffic. Encourage staff to build the discipline to grab the correct shortened link.
- Use tracking codes to identify the source of event registrations — social platforms or email marketing.
- Segment your email marketing lists to send targeted content based on member interests and demographics.
- Social media requires a conversational voice. Keep it short and include calls to action.
- Find the right balance between promotional and educational content.
- Don’t ignore one generation’s content needs in favor of another’s.
- Having a hard time getting staff to write blog posts? Turn it into a competition with teams and prizes.
- Twitter chats and video interviews are good educational tools. Use YouTube for educational, informational and “soft-sell” marketing content. Ask members to be the face and voice of your association.
Social media is a challenge when “the majority of our members don’t even have desks.” Soon the sons and daughters of those members will inherit the business. They and their parents have completely different ways of consuming information and interacting with the association. But, in the interim, you have to figure out how to please both generations at once.
Many associations still have trouble getting members to visit their website and read emails, never mind social media. Some members are afraid of using social media, seeing it as an environment laden with risk.
What to do? Educate them. Show them a model to emulate — a person or company in their industry using social media effectively. If they’re used to reading for news, information and education, they may adapt to reading a blog for the same purposes.
A final message from several people in the room: integrate social media campaigns with other departmental campaigns. Social media cannot live in a silo; you must have inter-departmental communication and coordination. For example, you can’t just start tweeting about an event two weeks before it starts. Social media must be part of the conversation and planning from the beginning.
Deirdre Reid, CAE is a freelance writer who is enjoying the food and discussions at #audc13.
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