Nine Lessons That Doors Open Can Teach Organizations About Social Media

Over 150 businesses and buildings in Toronto threw their doors wide open and invited the public to explore as part of the annual Doors Open event this past weekend.

Curious residents were able to learn what it was like behind the scenes at historic venues, exclusive social clubs, sporting venues and other interesting sites around the city. The event has been growing for years and it’s not uncommon to experience hour-long wait times just to step foot in some of the locations.

Needless to say, if your organization’s events were as popular as Doors Open Toronto, it would be a dream come true. There are certain elements of the initiative that your organization can learn a thing or two (or nine) from, especially when it comes to your social media strategy. Here are a few of the lessons we picked up from a weekend of adventuring:

People Want To Hear From The Expert

Doors Open gives people the opportunity to explore some of the buildings on your own, which can be fun, but some of the best locations offered guided tours by someone with knowledge of the site. These guides know all the interesting history, the building’s bizarre quirks, stories about each room and how the whole operation works. The do-it-yourself exploration lacks the guided tours expert knowledge.

Integrating some expert knowledge into your social media strategy is always a good way to go. For example, if you want to write a blog about a fashion trend for your retail store or a new law that effects your association’s members, try reaching out to a fashion blogger or specialized lawyer to contribute a guest post. Your audience will appreciate both the fresh voice and the expert perspective that you may not be able to provide.

Going Behind The Scenes Is Cool

There are many Torontonians who have attended an MLS soccer game at BMO Field without knowing what it takes to put on such a sporting event. Doors Open allows people to explore what its like behind the scenes at some of their favourite places, which adds knowledge, excitement and value to their next trip.

Similarly, your audience may be familiar with your operation, but unsure about the inner workings and day-to-day activities that make the organization run. Social media gives you the chance to change all this. Creating a video that shows the day in the life of the business highlights your staff, your initiatives and all the interesting activities your do on a daily basis, but behind the scenes. Your audience will have more knowledge of how your operation works and will feel more engaged with the organization.

A Little Content Goes A Long Way

Doors Open Toronto is a one-day event and that means residents flock to the locations in big crowds. Crowds mean lines and lines mean waiting around. The best sites are the ones that offer a little something while you wait, like a video explaining the origin of the building or signs at various point along the line with snippets of historical facts. They are engaging and help pass the time.

There will always come a time when you have a “social media lineup” of sorts. Your video still needs editing or your big blog post needs polishing off or your Twitter contest is still in the planning stages. In these situations, a little can go a long way for your audience. Post a short blog post or video and make sure to tweet on a regular basis, even if it deviates from your plan. It will keep your audience engaged. Note: always make sure the content is relevant and high-quality even if it’s short!

Shareable Moments Are The Best Moments

There were no shortage of cameras flashing and selfie-takers at any Doors Open venue. The lure of sharing your experience was too powerful and the opportunities were too hard to pass up. The smartest guides would point out an interesting feature of the site and a crowd of photographers would scramble to take a picture with it to share online.

The lesson here is, people want to share experiences, but not just any experience, an interesting and engaging one. Make sure that you provide these moments on your organization’s social media accounts. Encourage people to share their experience with your product with a hashtag or create moments at your event when attendees are encouraged to share their experience.

Learning Is Never Overrated

One of the pillars of Doors Open is access to information. Crowds turn out to dozens of buildings because they want to know more about them, from the way they operate to how they reflect the city’s culture and identity. People are hungry for information and Doors Open serves it up on a silver platter.

Give the people what they want by creating learning opportunities on social media. Make your Pinterest posts infographics that make learning visual, fun and shareable. Create how-to videos and blog posts. Tweet content that provides value to your audience through the sharing of relevant information. Stay up to date on the latest news and relate the relevant pieces to your audience in a way that provides value to their lives or careers.

Variety Is The Spice Of Life

The variety during Doors Open Toronto is one of its biggest draws. Visitors can explore everything from historical sites to sporting arenas to government buildings. The venues stretch from one side of the city to the other and all points in between. There are guided tours and explore-it-yourself sites. The point is, there is something for everyone, which is why everyone shows up!

It’s always wise to integrate this approach in social media as well. Don’t just stick to a single platform; experiment with multiple platforms and sources of content. They might not all work out perfectly, but it’s the only way to realize which ones will. Provide a multitude of different style of content to keep things fresh. For example, blogs can come in all shapes and sizes, including lists, infographics, editorials, videos, chronologies and interviews. Utilize them all!

Provide People With A Road Map

Having lots of options during Doors Open is great, but it can get a little confusing if the organizers didn’t provide one key component; a map. There are several maps on the official website and maps on independent blogs that list the best places to go in each area of the city. This makes it easier for people to plan their day and take part in the best activity for them.

Your organization can provide its own road maps using social media. If your company is doing a big sale or your association is putting on a big conference, write a blog post about the best products/seminars to pay attention to if you’re looking for X, Y or Z. Tweet or post on Facebook with details for events or initiatives. Show people how to best utilize your organization’s services by drawing it on a ‘road map’ and pinning it to your Pinterest board or posting it on Instagram.

Interest Follows The Crowd

When standing in line at a Doors Open event this past weekend, there was one persistent question being asked by people passing by; “What is this for?” These people saw the line, figured it must be for something good and asked about it. Not only do these people know about the event for next time, they might have even gotten in line themselves.

If you want people to talk about your organization online, you need to assemble a crowd first. The key is providing a platform to draw this crowd and, in turn, increased interest. If you’re putting on an event, create a hashtag, live-tweet the event and use the hashtag. By providing the platform for the crowd (a hashtag), people will be more willing to engage and when Twitter users see their friends engaging, they’ll ask, “What is this for?” and we all know where that leads.

Unmask Value Without The Hard Sell

We’ve already talked about the guided tour during Doors Open and their high engagement factor, but what we didn’t say was that some of the guides had a vested interest in the venues. For example, the GM of the National Club led the tour of the site. He could have used the opportunity to hawk membership, but he simply put on an engaging, interesting tour. At the end of the presentation, there were at least two or three people out of a group of 30 who asked about membership.

Marketing your organization on social media operates much the same way as the guided tour of the National Club; highlight the value without coming right out and trying to sell the product or service. Educate your audience, engage them with interesting content, provide a chance to network and share exciting pieces of information or experiences. All these things will uncover the value of your organization to the lives of your audience and will sell your organization to them without the risk of alienating people with a hard sell.

Four Quick Ways Your Organization Can Boost Engagement on Social Media

It’s one of the worst feeling in the world; you go to start your car one morning and the engine just won’t turn over. The only solution is to get a boost from another car, a jolt of electricity that sparks the engine and brings it out of dormancy.

Managing an organization’s social media account works much the same way. One day you’re motoring along, blogging up a storm, tweeting your original content, creating helpful and fun videos, and the next day you look and the engagement has dried up. This is what is commonly referred to as a rut and it is not good. What you need when you’re in a social media rut is a boost. It’s just like what a dead car battery needs, but instead of electricity, you need a boost in engagement.

Here are four ways your organization can give its social media strategy a boost in engagement without spending a lot of time, money or energy.

Share a Quote

Incline Blog Photo 1 (2)

People are looking for humour. People are looking for inspiration. People are looking for wisdom. Quotes can give your social media audience all three.

Posting a quote on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram is a fun way to mix it up and boost engagement. Studies have shown that sharing a quote on Twitter results, on average, in a 19% increase in retweets. Quotes are also very popular on visually-oriented platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. Quotes are relateable, interesting, easily shared and quick to read, which is probably the reason why they are so popular.

There is no shortage of occasions when a quote can become content for your organization. Someone, somewhere, has said something about your industry, product, service or area of expertise. If it’s a special awareness day (ie. Earth Day) find a fun quote about it and relate it back to your organization. Interview a member, volunteer, staff member or customer and quote them. If your organization is centred around a particular location, city or community, find a quote about that place and post it. The point is, you don’t have to look far to find a great quote.

If you really want to go the extra mile, add a photo to your quote. Images do well on social media, so why not combine quotes and visuals for ultimate engagement potential? This makes the quote shareable across a multitude of platforms, especially the visually-inclined ones like Pinterest or Instagram.

Share Someone Else’s Content

We’re all for publishing original content here at Incline Marketing; it drives traffic to your sites, it increases brand awareness and makes your organization the go-to resource for information on any given topic. However, there comes a time when the phrase “sharing is caring” becomes very useful on social media.

Sharing other people’s blogs, articles, stats, quotes, photos or other content on your social media channels will help get your organization some more engagement. People appreciate it when their work is highlighted and a good deed rarely goes unnoticed. If your organization shares someone’s content, they will be more likely to become part of your audience, share and like the post, thank you for it and connect with you in the future.

Find some relevant content from someone with a decent-sized following, a good track record of social media activity and some credibility in the industry. Share their content on Twitter, Facebook or any other platform. Just make sure to do two things; give them credit by tagging/mentioning them and summarize the content in your own words. Perhaps re-jig the headline to give a different and fresh take on the content. This keep the content fresh and more shareable from the other person’s point of view. If you really want to go the extra mile, throw in a compliment when giving credit. Saying something like, “… by the always-interesting @JohnSmith,” is definitely a piece of shameless flattery, but this good social media karma might come back to you in droves.

Make a Trending Topic Relevant

Riding a wave is always the easiest way to get from the deep water back to the beach. On social media, the wave is a trending topic and the beach is a place that’s full of people you want to talk to. The conversation is already started for you, all you have to do is get talking. Once you have inserted yourself into all the talk surrounding an already-popular topic, increased engagement is sure to follow.

Social media is a great tool for two things humans are obsessed with; information and opinion. An interesting piece of news travels fast online and your audience is probably inclined to find out more about it or share their opinion about it or both. Adding your organization’s voice to the equation makes you seem knowledgeable, up-to-date and important. It also gets your brand out to an audience you know is large and engaged.

To capitalize on a popular subject, browse the trending topics on Twitter and Facebook. Find a topic that is relevant to your organization and craft a tweet around it. Make sure the connection between your organization and its content is at least a little strong. The weaker the link, the less interest it will have for people paying attention to the trending topic. Use hashtags to insert yourself into the conversation. Although Instagram, Pinterest and other platforms don’t have a trending topic section, it’s safe to say that a popular subject on Twitter and Facebook will probably be popular on these platforms too. If you really want to impress, write a blog post that tackles a particularly trendy topic or piece of news from your organization’s point of view and share it all over.

Ask a Question From a Specific Group

If you want some more engagement, just ask for it. That’s the gist of this next piece of advice, which is to ask a question from your audience or a specific demographic that your organization wants to engage with. A question begs for an answer and when this answer comes from your social media audience, it leads to engagement, relationships and future interactions.

There will always be people out there that want to share their opinion and their expertise. Whether its for exposure, networking or simply to join in a conversation on a topic they’re passionate about, these individuals will take the time to answer a question you pose. Social media is based around participation in and access to conversation with like-minded groups. Your organization can capitalize on this by asking a question. A response means one more piece of engagement, but also exposure to an important demographic and relationship with a key audience member that could mean big benefits.

Find the places on social media that your community is hanging out in. On Twitter, this might mean finding the hashtags where your members or customers go to find information and share content. On LinkedIn, this might be the groups that your target audience joins. Develop a well-thought-out question, one that’s relevant, promotes different opinions and is clear without being dumbed down. Pose it to the community in which you want to engage with. If no one is answering your questions, try tagging certain influential members of the community. Also, answer other people’s questions and comment on their posts. This will make it more likely that they will engage with your queries down the road.

How Social Media Can Help Your Association Attract The Next Generation Of Members

To say that ‘Millennial’ is a buzzword that’s been thrown around a lot in the last couple years is an understatement. It’s a term used so frequently that you may be tired of hearing it over and over again. However, Millennials aren’t just a trendy demographic your association should think about reaching out to, they’re the future. They are the the ones that will make up the bulk of you organization’s membership soon and for a long time after. So paying attention to their wants and needs has to be high on your to-do list.

A recently conducted survey asked Millennials what association benefits they value the most. The number one answer by a large margin was continuing education and training, followed by access to a peer-reviewed journal, expert advice, leadership experience and a magazine.

What’s The Bottom Line?

One thing it clear when looking at the areas that Millennials value most; they are hungry to learn, network and gain access to any sort of professional development. The top five responses in the survey make it clear that information is a highly sought-after commodity by young professionals. If your association does’t provide this information to the younger generation, it’s a sure thing that they’ll search for, and find it, somewhere else.

What’s Social Media’s Place In All This?

Millennials are looking to drink in all the information they can and social media is all about giving and gaining access to information. Your association is a wealth of knowledge. From its veteran members to its educational offerings and the connections to government, your organization has a mansion full of facts, data and lessons that young professionals covet.

Your social media efforts are like the keys you give these young professionals to open the doors of this mansion. Social media gives your association an opportunity to share some of its information stockpile with those searching hardest for this valuable resource, which makes your organization valuable to these people. The more valuable your association becomes, the more likely someone is going to be to invest in it by purchasing a membership and attending events.

How Can Social Media Make Your Association More Valuable To Millennials?

Millennials prize education and training above all else, according to the aforementioned survey. Use your social media platforms to promote your association’s educational offerings as much as possible. Live-tweet events, post blogs about conferences and trade shows, create a video about how best to study for certification exams and make going to educational offerings fun with Facebook contests, Pinterest boards and Instagram photos.

This will help your association strike a balance between offering some great information and encouraging non-members to check out your association for more of the same. It also makes learning easy and accessible to Millennials. These factors combine to make your association more valuable to the younger demographic.

Three of the next four most desirable association offerings for young professionals are based around the output of information. Journals, magazines and expert advice are all sources of learning and professional development. Social media is a great way to expand the reach of the expertise and content your association is already producing. By giving Millennials easy access to this information, your association becomes a valuable source of knowledge for this demographic. Once they realize the value of your organization as a way to gain information, they will be more likely to invest in the association’s other offerings to members, such as events, webinars and mentorship programs, which can be a great way to increase non-dues revenue.

Lastly, Millennials want to gain leadership experience from being a member of an association. Social media platforms are a great way to expose young professionals to the opportunities available at your organization. Blog posts, tweets and Facebook posts about committee activities and lobbying efforts allow members and non-members to see the leadership opportunities that are available as well as the influence members can have on key decisions. By highlighting the achievements of your members, the evolution of your industry and your association’s part in both of these areas through social media, Millennials will be more likely to realize the value of your organization and feel like the return in worth the investment.

How Managing An Organization’s Social Media Account Is Like Growing A Garden

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the grass is a healthy shade of bright green. Spring is in the air.

It’s the time of year when we throw off the shackles of our oppressive winter coats and don t-shirts and sunglasses. The warm weather also means that backyard gardens will be sprouting up all over the place in the coming weeks. This spring-time hobby is not only healthy and environmentally friendly, but it offers us a handy metaphor with which to talk about our favourite topic here; social media management.

Growing a garden is a lot like managing a Twitter account, a Facebook page or any other type of social media platform for an association or small business. So get your green thumbs ready because we’re about to dig up the similarities between the two activities.

Preparing Your Garden

Every good gardener knows that you can’t just throw a few seeds into a pile of soil and hope for the best. You must plan your garden and build it so that your seeds flourish. You have to find a spot with access to sunlight and good soil. You have to research the kind of vegetables or flowers you are going to grow in order to determine if they are suited to the climate and also how much care they need. You need to add fertilizer and perhaps fences. We can go on and on, but you get the idea.

Managing a social media account also starts with some good planning. You need to find the right platform to be on. Just as plants need sunlight to grow, your social media content needs an audience to grow. Pick the platform where your members/customers are, or, in other words, make sure the climate is suited to the type of goals you want to accomplish online. You need to plan what content you’re going to post and how often. You need to plan the layout of the account and who your target audience is. Needless to say, there is a lot of groundwork to do before you even start on social media.

Planting the Seeds

The next step in a successful garden is planting the seeds. Without dropping those tiny pieces of plant into the ground, your planning is all for naught. Again, you can’t just drop the seeds willy-nilly into the ground. Many plants have a specific depth you need to plant them at and the package of seeds often tells you how much space to leave in between seeds. Following these guidelines is important to growing a successful garden.

The seeds of social media strategy is the content you publish and you have to treat it much the same way you treat the beginnings of your garden. People interact differently on every platform, which means the way you create and publish your content has to be different as well. Tailor your style and voice to different platforms and research the frequency with which to post content. Remember, without posting good, quality content, your social media strategy cannot grow and produce results. Make sure you don’t “plant” your content haphazardly.

Watering Your Garden

Everyone knows that plants need water to survive. A plant without water wilts and droops and has a sickly grey colour to its leaves. We all know this, we all know the importance of water to gardening, but sometimes we get caught up in a busy schedule or simply get lazy and don’t water the garden, hoping instead that Mother Nature does the chore for us with rainstorms. This is a recipe for disaster.

Social media accounts need their own version of frequent watering. Not only do you need to be posting fresh content on a regular basis, but you also have to continually be looking for new ways to engage your audience and grow your following. Cover new topics or try new ways to tackle old topics. Add visuals and create contests. Always be on the look out for individuals you should be connecting with or communities you could be interacting with. This way, you will always be providing something refreshing to your audience, like a nice, big glass of water on a hot day.

Picking the Weeds

No one likes picking weeds. It’s back-breaking work and it’s time-consuming. But it’s absolutely necessary to have a great garden. Weeds steal the nutrients from the plants you actually want to have in your garden, stunting the growth of your vegetables or flowers. They also don’t look like the most aesthetically pleasing part of your garden, so you grit your teeth and get to work picking them out, which is why you’re such a great gardener.

Your social media accounts can also have undesirable elements ready to sprout up and threaten to dismantle your hard-won progress. Negative comments and criticism is inevitable on social media. You can’t please every body and some of those unhappy people will make their opinion known online. You need to deal with these situations immediately and in the right way. Picking out the “weeds” from your social media account is crucial because, if left unattended, the negative feelings and your practice of ignoring those feelings could have a big impact on your most loyal of followers. So pay attention to any negative comments and don’t let them attack your goals.

Staying Patient

Gardens don’t grow overnight. As much as we all want to put the seeds in the ground, sprinkle a little water on top, go to bed and wake up to find a field of ripe tomatoes waiting for us, it just doesn’t happen that way. All gardeners have to stay patient and put in the time and effort over several months to see the results.

Patience is also a virtue in the world of social media management. You (or your boss) might expect to see immediate results after starting up a social media account for your organization. You might want to tweet a few times, go to bed and wake up to find 1,000 people have followed your account. Sadly, it doesn’t work this way, unless you’re a multi-million dollar company or a movie star. You have to put the time and effort into your social media strategy to offer consistently valuable content to your audience. Trust us, if you mix hard work, creativity and time together, you will see results somewhere down the road.

Harvesting Your Crops

Here’s everyone’s favourite part of gardening; harvesting your crops. Whether it’s picking tomatoes you’ve grown yourself for a salad or arranging some flowers from your backyard for a friend, it’s a rewarding experience. Everything looks or tastes better when it’s the result of your own hard work and time. Harvesting your crops also offers a few lessons for the future. You can determine if you should have let your plants grow more or even if you should grow cucumbers instead of tomatoes next year.

Harvesting the results of your social media efforts can also be rewarding and a good way to plan the future of your organization’s online strategy. The first step is to collect the data. Reading and understanding the results of your efforts on any platform is the first step in knowing if you have been successful in achieving your goals. The next step in “harvesting” your social media results is analyzing what worked and what didn’t work throughout the process. For example, if the data tells you that your tweets before 10 am on a weekday received 34% fewer interactions than tweets after 10 am on a weekday, you can adjust your strategy to post more content at a time when it will bring a bigger return on investment.

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.