4 Pinterest Board Ideas for Associations

Pinterest gets a bad rap. For every person who finds value in the visual pin-board platform, there’s another dismissing it for only being a site catering to home decor enthusiasts and bridezillas. The latter group is really missing out.

Pinterest is one of the best platforms for information sharing, visual storytelling and generating ideas. These are the elements your association should be wanting to bring its members. Information, stories and ideas are the driving forces behind engagement and value, two of the most important mechanisms for retaining members and drawing in new ones.

This all sounds well and good, but we’re forgetting one of the most important parts of any successful social media account; content. Associations don’t usually have delicious gluten-free recipes or home decorating ideas to draw attention to them. So what kind of Pinterest boards should your organization create? We’ve put together four potential ideas for to help association answer that very question:

History

Many associations have a rich history and Pinterest is a great way to highlight your organization’s past. Creating a ‘History’ board isn’t just to create a sense of nostalgia for your audience, it’s can also showcase your association’s ongoing value. By showing current and potential members what your association has accomplished, it will encourage them to view your organization as a crucial part of the development of both their careers and the industry moving forward.

There are many ways your association can show off its history on Pinterest. Create a board that takes Pinterest users through the history of the association’s conference in photos. Highlight influential members from the past and their stories, such as the founders of the organization or a long-time member. Create a timeline of any element of your association, from its advocacy accomplishments to its evolution of benefits, and publish it to the ‘History’ board. All these ideas will allow members to see your organization is always willing to evolve to serve its community better, while also giving them idea on how to maximize value as a member.

Events

Events are among the most visual elements your association brings to its community. Members see information, they see friends and colleagues, they see schedules and the views of the locale that’s hosting the event and they see how you have set it all up. Pinterest gives your organization an opportunity to better control the way attendees and potential attendees see your event. This makes you able to maximize the value your attendees find in the event, making it a win-win for you and your members.

When you create an event board on Pinterest, there are two periods of time to maximize its effectiveness. Prior to the event, pin photos and information that will encourage members to attend and provide them with incentive to. For example, pin articles about the locale they will be visiting or an infographic guide to getting the most out of their visit. After the attendee has returned home, pin photos of the event with stories that go along with the picture. This gives a human voice to the project and helps members realize the value in attending that they may have not noticed before.

Member Recognition

Recognizing members is definitely underrated. Everyone likes a pat on the shoulder every now and then. While it’s common for associations to hand out awards and honour volunteers, shining the spotlight on members who accomplish something of note in their field will only increase your association’s value in their eyes. Telling their story through visuals and driving traffic to their organization is a great way to recognize members through Pinterest.

Create a board on Pinterest for member recognition and pin photos of either the member you are giving a shout out to or giving a visual representation of their accomplishment. In the description box, tell their story. Link the pin to their website, their organization’s website or their social media accounts. In addition to being recognized, the member will also appreciate the increased attention on their business. These actions will help members see the value in being part of your association’s community, where the voice of a large organization can help them get recognized more than they can on their own.

Blog Posts and Magazine Articles

Pinterest is a great way to distil your association’s written content into a picture and a concise description that will increase traffic to your website while providing value to members. Your association’s blog and magazine content provides members with up-to-date information, helpful tips and important notes about advocacy, best practices and association events. Needless to say, it’s stuff your members should be reading. Pinterest gives your organization a chance to make this information jump off the page and engage members.

When creating this Pinterest board, the key is visuals. Your content is already there for you, but you will have to think of a way to display it visually so that it jumps off the page. Creating graphics, posting photos of a familiar setting or face and adding keywords and an exciting headline to the description box are all ways to pique your audience’s interest. This type of Pinterest board is also a great idea because it keeps your account stocked with fresh content. You won’t have an event every month or an interesting historical fact every week, but your blog posts and magazine articles can be rolled out as they come or in small doses to keep things new and exciting for your audience.

The 5 Things Every Social Media Manager Should Do On A Daily Basis

Contrary to popular belief, social media management is not a black hole that devours all the minutes in a work week.

Don’t get us wrong, crafting the right content, engaging your audience, raising brand awareness and extracting return on investment from social media is not a quick endeavour. However, it doesn’t often require a full-scale blitz from Monday to Friday, especially if you’re running social media accounts for a small business or a small to medium-sized association. You don’t even need to post content every single day, depending on the platforms you utilize.

No, social media isn’t something you need to spend 40 hours a week on, but there are certain tasks that all social media managers should do every day to be successful. They aren’t time consuming or complicated, but they are necessary to achieve great results for your organization. Here are five social media duties you should make sure to check off your to-do list every day:

1. Write Down and Review Ideas for Future Content

Brainwaves are a great thing. When they hit you, it makes you feel like a genius and they help you get excited to create great content. There is a downside, however. Brainwaves usually fade after a while and then you’re stuck trying to remember your amazing idea without much success. This puts your firmly back at square-one without fresh content to publish on social media.

To protect against losing your awesome content ideas, create an “idea bank” where you can record your best thoughts. Visit the list at least once a day to add your new ideas and review the existing ones to see if any of them could be used on that day or in the near future.

Bonus: Make your “idea bank” accessible to your colleagues as well. Idea swapping in the workplace has the potential to not only make everyone’s job easier, but also help everyone stay up-to-date with your online efforts.

2. Reply to Notifications

You schedule may or may not call for daily posts on social media, but your audience has their own timetable. They can engage with your organization whenever they feel the urge. This instant access to your organization is on the best elements of social media, but it also keeps you on your toes. Notifications can range from a question about your organization to criticism to a friendly word about your services. Regardless of the intent, all notifications should be addressed on a daily basis at the very least.

When you get into the office in the morning, fire up your computer and check for any notifications on your social media accounts. Take the time to respond to them. Your members, customers, etc. will appreciate the timeliness of their response. If you answer their question about store hours or address their criticism about your association’s most recent event soon after they’ve asked/reached out, these individuals will feel valued and will get the information when it is most useful to them. This increases the odds that they will engage with your organization again and the chances they will invest their time or money in your organization. When you act quickly, your audience will see it and appreciate it.

Bonus: Audience engagement can give you great ideas for future content. Checking notifications on a daily basis ensures you don’t miss a great opportunity.

3. Read The News

One of the most basic goals of news is to help people make informed decisions. The best kind of decisions you and your organization can make are informed ones, ones that are based on the current environment your members/customers are living in. In other words, your organization doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so don’t act like it on social media. Reading the news every day can help you stay out of this we’re-in-a-vacuum mentality.

Stay up to date on the news that matters most to you. Make the effort to follow news-makers and news outlets that are most relevant to your activities as an organization. Take at least 10 minutes every day to browse their content. You may find a great article that will your association’s members or an interesting article that you know your customers will appreciate. The same goes with hashtags or groups that often act as a catch-basin for industry news; take 10 minutes to browse these sources too.

Staying up to date on the news will also help you coordinate your response to certain events. For example, if a new law is passed or a natural disaster happens that effects your members, you will be able to quickly respond to it on social media, making your organization a go-to source for reliable information and helpful support.

Bonus: You never know when your organization’s name could pop up in the news. When it’s in a positive light, you don’t want to miss an opportunity to highlight it. If it’s criticism, you don’t want to miss out on responding to it or acting on it to make your organization better.

4. Search For Your Organization Online

If you and your colleagues are doing your jobs well, there will be people talking about your organization. It might not be every day or even every week, but at some point, someone will mention your association or business on social media and you’re going to want to know about it.

Keeping track of notifications and reading the news are two great steps to finding what people are saying about your organization, but comments can sometimes fall through the cracks of these searches. In order to capture all the chatter, go a step further and search for your organization on social media. Doing this on a daily basis will ensure you don’t miss out on anything that’s being said about your organization, good or bad. It will give you an opportunity to address any problems or highlight any compliments. Be sure to search hashtags and groups in addition to using the general search function on each platform.

Bonus: If the individuals that are mentioning you aren’t tagging you in their posts, responding to them will make them aware of your presence on social media. You may even recruit a new follower and potential brand ambassador by simply searching your organization on social media.

5. Review Your Strategy and Results

Your daily social media efforts are all part of a larger scheme which likely includes an editorial calendar, a run down of past results and a list of benchmarks for the future. These are long-term considerations that don’t usually effect your daily activities on social media. However, keeping tabs on your plan will help you make critical decisions on those days when it’s absolutely needed and will help your efforts more successful.

When you get to the office in the morning, take a minute to check your editorial calendar and make sure the content you’re planning on publishing is still more relevant, engaging and timely than anything else that has come up. Making the necessary changes could boost your engagement and can even save you from an embarrassing gaffe.

Also make sure to check your recent results on social media and compare them with past results and desired benchmarks. If you make daily notes about your progress, it’s easier to recognize when you fall far behind your goals and are slipping well below your past results. When you can catch it quick, you can make adjustments to your strategy and get your accounts back on track without further damage to your ROI and your account’s long-term health and success.

Bonus: Keeping track of your results on a daily basis saves time when you’re preparing your weekly/monthly/quarterly report on your social media efforts. Instead of spending 10 hours on collecting and parsing the data, you can spend 15 minutes a day and have all the numbers waiting for you when report time rolls around.

Size Matters: Association Marketing And The Power Of The Short Video

Size still matters, but the meaning behind the saying has definitely changed when it comes to marketing.

When it comes to online marketing, the mantra “Bigger is Better” is out and “More with Less” is in, especially when it comes to video. The circulation of short clips is nothing new in social media circles (platforms like Instagram have been around and popular for years now), but they may be that fresh element that your organization needs to boost its marketing game.

The power of the short video can be harnessed by organizations of all stripes, from non-profits to multi-national corporations. You may be reading this and saying, “That’s all well and good for McDonald’s or Starbucks, but it’s really not for my association.” That might be true, but we implore you not to make a final judgement just yet, the following few paragraphs might change your mind.

Vine

Vine is the forefather of all other short-video-based platforms out there. It was founded almost three years ago and was purchased shortly after by Twitter. If you’re unfamiliar with Vine’s concept, here’s a little primer; the app lets users record and edit up to six-second-long looping video clips and share others’ posts with followers. Videos can also be shared on other services like Facebook or Twitter.

Now that everyone is caught up, the real question becomes, what does an association do with six seconds of video? The great thing about Vine and other short video platforms is that they don’t cost you a lot of time or money to create. Your association can get a message across without sacrificing hours on filming and editing a longer video. This is great for when you or your members are on the go. For example, at your organization’s annual conference or when you’re busy at a lobby day.

One of the most important rules to remember when creating a video on Vine is to keep it simple. Have one, very narrow goal for your video. Instead of making a vine about your entire day at the office, focus on one task you accomplished that most relevant to members. For example, if you received the latest issue of your association’s magazine, make a quick video of it being delivered, opening the box, showing off the cover and flipping through the pages. This not only conveys to members that the new issue is ready to read, but it shows that it comes from your office and is created by staff who care about the finished product just as much as they do.

Another crucial rule for Vine videos is to have fun with it and be creative. Six seconds isn’t a lot of time, so sometimes it’s best when you let the images do the talking. For example, if you want to show off your trade show, pick a vantage point and record the room as it fills up with people. Edit it together and create a mini time-lapse of the increase in trade show interest. Not only is this a great tool to bring in sponsors and exhibitors, but it lets attendees who aren’t in the trade show know that they are probably missing out on something they shouldn’t.

Instagram

Instagram may be better known for its photos and filters, but its video-sharing capabilities have increased in popularity since it introduced the feature less than two years ago. Instagram videos take a similar approach to Vine videos, but here’s the catch, they’re longer. Instagram allows users to record up to 15 seconds of video and post it using the mobile app. The videos can also be shared via Twitter and Facebook.

Instagram’s 15-second rule is interesting for associations because that time span is the average length of a commercial. It’s not too long and not too short, so your organization can get its message across without losing the attention of its audience.

Instagram videos are great tools for your association to make important announcements. In addition to sending out a press release, Instagram videos give your association a chance to hear it from a human voice and not just from words on a page. For example, when announcing the winner of one of your association’s award, have that member announce it through an Instagram video. They can elaborate on what it means to them to win the award. The emotion can be presented much better through video then in words and can inspire other people in the industry to invest in an organization that has so obviously helped one of their colleagues.

Just like Vine, Instagram videos should be fun once in a while. For example, record a special holiday message from staff and members at the association. It can be something fun, like changing the words to T’was the Night Before Christmas and having one person read one line each. Not only does this get staff and members involved in a fun project, but it lets members know that the association is a fun organization to be part of while putting a human face to the people who are working every day to make the association better.

Snapchat

Snapchat is like the secret society of short video platforms. The app allows users to share pictures or 15 second videos with their network, but the content only stays available until it is viewed and then it disappears into cyber space. The platform recently added a new feature that allows users to post videos that will stay available to their network for up to 24 hours, although this content also has a disappearing act after time is up.

One of the biggest benefits of Snapchat for any organization is the intrigue and exclusivity it creates. If your association is one to guard its benefits and services pretty closely and offer them only to members, Snapchat is a great way to ensure content is seen by your organization’s community first. Snapchat videos also have the potential to ramp of the excitement among members for your association’s big projects, like a conference or a big announcement.

One way for your members to get value out of Snapchat is to experience its exclusivity. For example, your association might post a video telling members where to find a special code that gives them a discount to your next conference, webinar or networking event. The video can stay up for 24 hours and be accessed only by the people you chose to share it with. Letting members enter your event through the velvet ropes is exciting and shows that you value their loyalty to the association while rewarding them for their investment in the organization’s initiatives.

Another way to harness the power of Snapchat videos is to give your association’s community several sneak peeks that will get them interested in a big announcement. For example, if you are going to reveal who the keynote speaker is at your conference, take a week leading up to the announcement to leave clues via Snapchat videos. This has the potential to get members guessing and paying attention when the announcement is finally made. This excitement will hopefully carry over into the actual event and generate better attendance and engagement.

Social Media Lessons Your Organization Can Use Offline Too

Social media is most likely a small (but obviously important) part of your operation. Your association or small business is also concerned with the other types of marketing, programs, services and general upkeep that takes up a day. This doesn’t mean social media should be moved to the back burner or taken off the stove entirely when doing other critical tasks.

There’s a lot to learn when mastering social media management for your organization, but there’s also a lot to learn from your efforts that can be applied to other areas of your business or non-profit. Applying some of the strategies you follow online can help you build creative solutions offline as well. Here are four ways your social media savvy can translate to your organization’s other duties.

Handling Criticism

Nothing takes the spring out of your step like a disgruntled member or an angry customer. It happens to everyone. It’s unavoidable. You can’t please everyone all the time and people are going to make you aware that they’re not happy when their expectations are not met.

One of the most pervasive fears about being on social media is the negativity that is inevitable from putting your organization out on any platform. What many people don’t know is that social media is the perfect place to deal with individuals who want to take your organization to task. It allows you access to the criticism in the first place, it gives you the opportunity to connect with the complainant one-on-one and also lets you show how you have followed through with creating change from someone’s bad experience.

The lessons you learn about handling criticism online can be applied to real life. Take the time to handle each complaint personally. Avoid sounding like a robot with a standard phrase that sweeps all negativity under the rug. Follow up with the person who had a bad experience and show them how you have addressed the issue. Lastly, if the criticism is out of bounds and disproportionately effects the your other members/customers, be respectful, but walk away from the fight before it becomes one.

Developing Loss Leaders

A large part of social media’s effectiveness is about driving traffic to your organization’s website. For example, tweeting a link to your association’s blog on its website or pinning content that leads to your businesses’s site allows individuals to connect with your organization through content they find valuable. This is what often makes social media a loss leader; it gets people in the “door” to explore other services your organization has to offer.

It may be a good idea to take a page from social media and develop other loss leaders in your organization. For example, offer your association’s new members a chance to come to its annual conference for free. This gives new members, many of them new and with small budgets, a chance to see how your association can benefit them and help them develop their careers. You may lose money on their attendance, but it may lead them to invest in your association long-term while spreading your organization’s benefits far and wide through word of mouth.

Community Involvement

Social media is all about connecting with communities and building your own. That’s why Twitter chats are so popular and Facebook groups reach into the hundreds of thousands. Integrating your organization into these online communities broadens your audience and provides value to your target demographic, giving them more incentive to invest in your association or small business with their hard-earned money.

Creating a strategy to be involved in your community outside of social media is also important. As a small business, don’t be afraid to invite other local shops and business owners to collaborate on an event. The saying, “United we stand, divided we fall,” is never far off the mark.

Similarly, encourage your association to get involved with local association’s that serve the same industry as yours, especially if you’re association is a national one. Plan events on a local level, tailor your advocacy plans for specific regions and strategize ways in which your board of directors can work within their community to spread the word about the work your association is doing.

Data Analysis

Any social media manager worth their salt will tell you that analyzing the data is crucial to determining the success of their efforts and making the necessary improvements to increase the benefits. You need to keep a handle of what the numbers mean and how they tie together to effect the big picture.

The same philosophy goes for your offline efforts. It’s important to know how your members or customers are using and reacting to certain programs, initiatives, services and products. For example, conducting a well thought out survey after your association’s annual conference will allow your organization to target the areas of the event that worked well and those that need to be tweaked or scrapped altogether.

Working With Twitter Analytics, Or, How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love The Data

Welcome to the wonderful world of Twitter Analytics! It’s a place where fancy stats fill seemingly endless rows and columns of Excel Spreadsheets and funny terms like “Detail Expands” run rampant. It’s truly an astounding place.

Okay, enough of the mythical-world lingo and hyperbole. Twitter Analytics is a great resource for small businesses, associations and other organizations that want to figure out how Twitter is helping them. The platform gives anybody with a Twitter account access to reams of data. We’re here to help you sort out what’s what and how the numbers can be translated into an action plan for your marketing strategy.

First Thing’s First

Before you go charging into the forest of numbers with reckless abandon, you need to know one important thing; you need to know your goals.

Knowing what you and your organization want to achieve with Twitter is critical to parsing the data and making meaningful connections.

For example, if your association wants to drive traffic to its website because that’s where people are most likely to sign up as members, it’s probably more advantageous to focus on the flow of Twitter users to your links and profile page. If you run a food truck and want as many people as possible to know where you are, you will most likely want to know how many people are seeing your tweets.

Knowing your goals will help turn a mish mash of numbers into something you can actually use to make the most out of your Twitter efforts.

The Basics

Retweets, Favourites, Replies and URL Clicks

These four categories make up your most basic engagement stats on Twitter. These elements are the most in-your-face form of interaction as you can see and keep track of them even without Twitter Analytics using your Twitter account or simple programs like Bit.ly.

The numbers tied to these interactions can tell you a few things about how your efforts are paying off. The more Twitter users that interact with your content using these forms of engagement, the more value they are getting from your organization. When someone retweets your link or favourites a tweet, it means they found value in it. These interactions also help your content get shared, specifically retweets and mentions. If you see a growing number of these interactions from your Twitter account, it means your organization is interacting with more people, its reaching more people and its increasing in value.

Another stat you can gather from these numbers is the cost-per-interaction. Add up the number of retweets, favourites, replies and URL clicks and divide it by the amount of money spent on gaining these interactions. The result is the amount of money your spent to get one interaction. When this number decreases, the return on investment increases.

The Next Level

Impressions

Impressions are the number of Twitter users who have seen your tweet. These are the people who have laid eyes on your content, but haven’t necessarily interacted with it in any way. This doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention to what it says; it could mean they just scanned it quickly or it could mean they saw a tweets about a sale you’re having and made a mental note to go check it out after work.

The real value of tracking impressions is to know how large your reach is on Twitter. If you’re using Twitter to get people involved in your cause or to buy your product, you want a lot of people to see your marketing and you want to see a steady climb in the number of impressions you receive. If you’re only focused on reaching a specific set of people, impressions are not as important if you’ve achieved your reach.

Calculating your cost-per-impression can tell you how much bang for your buck you’re getting. It follows the same formula as cost-per-interaction (total divided by cost). This will tell you if it’s costing you less to reach a larger audience than it did a month ago and will help you determine whether to tweak your Twitter strategy.

Average Engagement Rate

Your Twitter account’s average engagement rate is the result of dividing the number of engagement by the number of impressions you received. This will give you a more in-depth look at how effective your efforts are in attracting involvement and adding value to people’s day.

A few things to note: On a Twitter Analytics spreadsheet, engagement rate is posted as a decimal, such as 0.0211345. This can actually be seen as a percentage. In this example, the engagement rate can be rounded to 2.1%. This means that out of the number of people who say your tweet, 2.1% of them engaged with it. Engagement is defined by Twitter Analytics as a variety of elements which include retweets, favourites, replies, URL clicks, hashtag clicks, profile views, detail expands and follows.

The great thing about finding your average engagement rate or even the engagement rate for individual tweets, is that it can tell you how many people are actually acting when see your content. One of the biggest questions is about finding social media return on investment is, how do we know the people who are seeing out stuff are actually investing in it? Engagement rate helps you determine if people are taking the next steps in investing time and money in your organization. First they see it (impressions) and then they are exploring it (engagement rate). The more time they spend exploring your content, the more chance there is that they spend money on your organization.

The View From The Top

Hashtag Clicks

If you use Twitter, you know all about hashtags. Twitter Analytics allows you to track a small, but powerful, part of how your hashtags are working to help your organization.

Twitter Analytics tells you how many people clicked on a hashtag that you tweeted out. This can be especially helpful to organization that create their own hashtags for events or initiatives. For example, if you are an association that has created a hashtag for its annual conference, you can track how many times your hashtag was clicked on from your Twitter account before, during and after the event. If you are a small business that has started a hashtag that encourages people to share stories about their experience with your product, you can track your account’s success in promoting this hashtag using Twitter Analytics.

The value of knowing the number of hashtag clicks is knowing if your special events marketingon Twitter is being effective. It allows you to see if you need to improve your efforts to build an online advocacy program for your association or you should try something different the next time your small clothing store has a sale.

User Profile Clicks

User profile clicks calculate the number of times Twitter users clicked on your main profile from a specific tweet. Finding the total user profile clicks allows you to see whether your tweets are making Twitter users interested in your organization as a whole.

The value of determining user profile clicks is much the same as engagement rate. When people go to your profile, they can find out much more information about your organization. They can see your cover photo, which gives them a taste of what your all about. They can see a description of your services, your tweet history and, most importantly, can follow the link to your website. The possibilities for that person to discover more about your organization and invest in it are endless.

Tracking user profile clicks gives you a view on which tweets are encouraging people to take the next step and explore your organization further. This can be especially advantageous for organizations who are looking for new customers or that want to attract people to their website. For example, if you are a small business with an online Etsy store, a tweet that takes someone to your profile may mean they click on the link to your Etsy shop and from there, it may mean a sale.

Three Ways Your Organization Can Freshen Up Its Social Media Content

Social media is often a “What have you done for me lately,” game and if your answer to that question is, “What we usually do,” your organization might be in trouble.

Nobody likes seeing stale, monotonous content on social media. For example, if your organization’s tweets consist of two republished articles and a page from your website every single day, your followers might go elsewhere for their daily dose of creativity and engagement.

You might be saying, “Well, we do the same thing again and again because it works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” You’re very right, you need to be consistent in giving your network what they want and if tweeting three republished articles every day gets engagement from the right people, you’re doing well. However, fresh content and the usual, reliable content can coexist on the same social media account. Fresh content is a way to engage a wider audience, highlight more value and set you apart from the crowd.

Look at it this way; your house could look absolutely amazing with antique furniture and classic paint colours, but if you still have that ratty couch you pulled from the dumpster in your college days, that’s all anyone is going to be looking at. Add a fresh couch and it completes the entire home.

If you’re stuck on how to inject some newness into your content, fear not, we have your back with these three ideas:

1. Get Tweeting, March Madness Style

It’s the latter days of March and that means it’s time for the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament, which is like Christmas for college sports fans. Millions of people fill out their brackets before the tournament and watch the games on TV with fervent attention. Why not have your organization tap into this cultural phenomenon while creating fresh content for social media by having its own March Madness style initiative on Twitter?

If you need some ideas for what this would look like, think about your association’s next conference. Think of eight, 16 or even 32 speaking topics and pit them against each other. Ask your Twitter followers to retweet for one choice or favourite for the other and slowly eliminate the topics until you have one or two champions. This will get your members involved and excited for the event while adding a breath of fresh air to your social media content.

2. DIY Quotes Across Multiple Platforms

People love quotes. There’s something about seeing a product, organization or idea captured by one person’s wisdom or wit that makes people want to engage on social media. One study concluded that tweets with quotes received a 19% boost in retweets. If you scroll through Facebook or Pinterest, you’ll pass a quote as often as a you pass another car on the highway.

Your organization can take advantage of this trend in human nature, but with a twist. Don’t rely on mining quotes from famous authors or philosophers, source quotes from your community and target audience. Call up a veteran member of your association or a loyal customer of your business, ask some questions and let them know what it’s for. Extract a quote that captures the value of your services, your business concept or the community. Post this quote on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest and link to your website.

Using the conference example again, call a member of your association that frequents the annual conference and talk to them about the importance of education. They might say something along the lines of, “Education is the rungs of the ladder that has helped me rise in my career.” Not only is it a quote (which is awesome for engagement), but it comes from someone your target audience trusts. It also injects a little fun into your daily posts.

3. A “Life in a Day” Remix

Three years ago, YouTube decided to pursue a massive project; create a movie that captures the day in the life of people from all over the world using footage from regular people. It was a huge success, garnering more than 10 million views on YouTube and receiving plenty of accolades.

Your organization’s version might not be this successful, but it can definitely add a little something extra to your video efforts. Put a camera at the front of your office or store and encourage staff, volunteers, visitors, members and customers to record their experiences whenever they get the urge. Tell your network to get busy filming on their own, recording their life in a day or a week. Provide some prompts on what to talk about and tie them into your organization. Edit these clips together them together and show the world how different people view your organization and how your organization adds value to people’s lives.

This is a great way to incorporate fresh views on your association, non-profit, charity or small business into one video while including everyone from staff to your board of directors, customers, members and volunteers. It also provides an we’re-all-in-this-together vibe that strengthens your community, both online and off line.

Five Ways Your Association Can Use Social Media to Help Members’ Professional Development

Professional development is big for members of associations. We’re talking 30-bedroom-mansion-with-three-swimming-pools big.

In a 2013 survey done by Greenfield Services, education, networking and access to specialized information accounted for over 50% of the reasons why someone joined an association. These areas have one thing in common; they help members get ahead in their careers. Associations give their members a chance to make connections, learn new things and gather knowledge, which, in turn, will help them climb the ladder.

So, if a great professional development strategy is so important to attracting and retaining members, how does social media fit into this strategy? Here are five ways to incorporate professional development in your online communications efforts:

Twitter Chat With An Expert

This strategy checks off pretty much all the professional development boxes; education, specialized information and networking.

Just a quick refresher on what a Twitter chat is: A Twitter chat is a live, open-forum conversation that focuses on a specific issues that is important to a certain group of people. There is a moderator and questions are posed to generate conversation. For example, in this situation, your association may want to set up a Twitter chat where members can ask a lawyer about a new piece of legislation that will affect them.

A Twitter chat with an expert allows members to get information that will help them solve problems specific to them. It can also be a great way to learn new details of a practice they are already familiar with while also networking with their peers.

LinkedIn Conversations

Over the years, LinkedIn has established itself as the go-to resource for professionals looking to up their game and get recognized. This quest to be heard among the thousands of other LinkedIn users devolves into the race for endorsements or becomes easy prey for spammers. Don’t let your association settle for this while leaving your members to fend for themselves. Create a well-maintained LinkedIn group as a haven for your members.

LinkedIn groups have the ability to be exclusive, meaning that access to specialized information can be just that; specialized. Keep a good filter on who is allowed into your group and keep your eyes out for spam accounts that will make members disillusioned. Encourage conversation and a sharing of ideas among members in the group. Members will learn new techniques from each other and expand their networks at the same time.

Drop Knowledge With A Blog

A blog can be a gateway for your association, one that has a sign over top saying, “If you think this stuff is good, just imagine all the other educational opportunities we provide to members.”

Blogs are a great way to share information with members and non-members alike and thus help them with their professional development. Your association can tackle everything from new techniques specific to its industry to general advice (such as resume-building tips for members). Not only does it spread the wealth of information your organization has, but it can help expose the great work of your members by profiling their achievements, which is an effective form of networking.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a feature of Google+ that works sort of like an updated version of a webinar. It allows groups to gather online to learn and have a conversation.

Hangouts give your association an opportunity to incorporate the three aspects of professional development (education, networking and access to specialized information). For example, recruit a member to give a talk to other members about a new and effective strategy they are using at their operation. Not only does this provide members with an exclusive educational opportunity, but it also gives the speaker member a chance to share their knowledge and be recognized as a special resource in the industry. It also allows other members of the Hangout to meet their peers without the restrictions of distance.

Live-Tweet An Event

Your association’s events are the headliners of its professional development strategy. There are educational talks, exclusive content and hobnobbing opportunities galore. Live-tweeting the event adds another layer that allows your community to get even more from your efforts.

There are many times when your association’s annual conference includes overlapping educational opportunities. Tweeting bits and pieces of these talks allows people to do the impossible; be in two places at once. This allows your association and its members to get a 2 for 1 deal on learning.

Live tweeting an event also helps your association connect attendees directly with speakers and other attendees. It brings all parties together on one platform to talk, plan a networking meetup or ask follow-up questions to a presentation they saw.