A Guide to Handling Your Organization’s Rebranding Efforts on Twitter

There comes a time in (almost) every organization’s life when it must rebrand itself. To those organizations planning to go through it, Twitter is there for you.

Rebranding is never easy and most of the time it’s a downright pain in the rear, but sometimes it’s necessary for associations, non-profits or small businesses. A total changeover at any organization includes a reshaping of the Twitter account. The transition has to be done right, but when it is, Twitter can make the whole process easier for the organization and its community.

Before the Rebrand

The time leading up to a rebrand is longer than the time is actually takes to transition an organization. There’s planning, research, consultations, stakeholder meetings and more. Using Twitter can make this planning process a little easier on everyone involved.

Rebranding can leave your community a little lost. Giving them as much information as possible leading up to a rebrand is crucial to keeping them informed, engaged and loyal even after a huge transition. Twitter helps your organization connect with its community every day. Be sure to tweet out links to important documents on your website related to the rebranding, such as a piece on the reasons for such a change, and let them know if there is a meeting or consultation they can attend.

Twitter also gives your community a chance to ask important questions and for your organization to instil trust in the community by answering those queries. Conduct a Twitter chat with your CEO, owner or executive director on the topic of rebranding. You can even create a hashtag, such as #InclineMktgRebrand, where your community can go to check on updates and ask questions. This will help your organization keep up with community feedback and will give your community a forum to learn and inquire.

Last, but certainly not least, make the rebranding fun on Twitter. For example, most rebranding efforts include a change in logo or signage. Have your Twitter followers submit ideas and vote on which one they like the best. This will give your community a voice in the rebranding and will keep your organization from alienating its loyal base.

During and After the Rebrand

Rebranding often means a change in name, which will mean a change in your Twitter account. Out with the old, in with the new! It is necessary, but if not done right, it will lead to a substantial loss in your followers and engagement and thus your organization’s ROI.

When the Twitter handle changes over to the new one, continue to tweet from the old account for a week or two (in addition to tweeting from the new one). During this time, frequently remind followers on your old account that the handle has changed. Continue to check interactions that the old account receives, especially mentions, and respond from both the new and old accounts. After a week or two, let followers of your old account know that you will be shutting down the old account. Continue notifying your community of this change and after three or four week, shut down the old account. This will cut down on confusion and complete the Twitter rebrand.

Twitter can be a powerful tool to help your community get used to a recent rebrand. Keep tweeting out information and details on the changes. Tweet links to the new website (if there is one) so they can get used to the new URL. Tweet about the changes and hold another Twitter chat to answer any questions. Make it fun again. Create a contest that offers followers a chance at a prize if they mention your new Twitter handle in a complimentary tweet. This will keep your community informed and engaged.

Don’t be overly concerned if your followers drop noticeably. This can actually be helpful in determining your Twitter account’s success and ROI. Many of the followers who don’t make the switch to your new Twitter account are not your target audience. This will allow you to assess how many key influencers you have and which demographics you should target moving forward.

Make sure to update all your information on Twitter, including the About section and your cover photo. Give your followers as much notice and as much information as possible before, during and after rebranding and Twitter will become a powerful tool in making the change a successful one.

Crowdsourcing For Non-profits And How Social Media Can Help

Last week we talked about Merriam Webster’s word of the year for 2014, which was culture. Culture is a great word, especially when we’re talking about associations and non-profits, but another term that pervaded our thinking in 2014 and into 2015 was crowdsourcing.

If you’re not familiar with the definition of crowdsourcing, it’s the process of obtaining information or input for a particular task or project by enlisting the services of a number of people. For example, crowdsourcing can be as simple as asking a wide audience (via Twitter) what to make for dinner and receiving numerous suggested recipes for an appetizer, entrée and dessert from various people. You put these suggestions all together and get a whole meal out of it. And voilà, you have successfully crowdsourced.

Following along with the dinner analogy, your association or non-profit can make a delicious meal for its membership/community through crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing has definite advantages, from being cheap to giving your community a voice in decisions that directly affect them. Here are just some of the ways you can get your target audience involved, engaged and part of the process by crowdsourcing content from and for social media.

Publications

Your association communicates with its members through various tools like newsletters, email blasts, blogs and, last, but certainly not least, a trade magazine. These publications need content. Sourcing or writing this content can sometimes be a pain in the unmentionables and can take up valuable time and resources. Crowdsourcing can be the answer to these problems.

Create a page on your website where members can submit ideas for blog posts or magazine articles and can volunteer to write them. Tweet or post on Facebook asking for willing authors or simply asking which issues the membership thinks are going to be important in the next few months or year. Start an Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest hashtag where members can share photos or short insights that can be incorporated into a section of your blog, website, newsletter or magazine as a “Speaker’s Corner” type feature.

Events

It’s someone’s job to plan your organization’s event and they probably do a very good job at it, but a little input from members is never a bad thing. Knowing which speakers, topics and social events to plan for is often done through plenty of research. Crowdsourcing, via social media, allows your organization to use the knowledge of your attendees as part of that key step.

Create a hashtag on Twitter and an event page on Facebook relatively early in order to establish an audience on each platform. Ask questions about which topics would be most interesting or advantageous to attendees. Utilize Facebook’s polling tool that allows members to vote on the best topics for the event or the entertainment for a social night/fundraiser. Urge trade show participants, volunteers from previous events or recent donors to write in with small passages on why they are part of your organization’s mission and make it into a blog post or YouTube video.

Fundraising

Crowdsourcing has become a popular tool for entrepreneurs and innovative minds who need some seed money for their enterprises. Non-profits and associations can take these examples and apply them to their projects and initiatives using social media as a megaphone for their efforts.

Create a crowdfunding project where members or donors can give small amounts to support a new service (such as an app for members) or a community initiative (such as building a community garden). Offer small rewards for people who give to the cause, such as 10% off registration to the next conference or a bushel of tomatoes from the garden. Unfortunately, no one can give to the crowdfunding initiative if they are unaware of it. Use social media to share the project. Make a video or an infographic about its potential impacts. Create a hashtag for it and tweet numerous times on Twitter. Use Facebook to run a contest, perhaps making entering people into a draw for an additional prize if they share a status about the crowdfunding project.

Four Types Of Culture Your Association Wants And How Social Media Can Help You Get Them

Merriam-Webster released its 2014 word of the year a couple weeks ago and it’s not what you’d expect. Instead of a buzzword, such as content marketing or slacktivism, the world-renowned organization chose an much more important word; culture.

According to the good people at Merriam-Webster, culture is a term to convey a kind of academic attention to systematic behaviour and allows us to identify and isolate an idea, issue, or group. In other words, culture is the definition of an entity, such as an association, based on the way they act and talk.

Culture is obviously an important term in today’s world and it is an idea that influences how your association operates. Culture dictates how your staff works, what your organization’s goals are and how members interact with the association. A great social media strategy can help your association enhance a culture that entices new members, draws the attention of present members and strengthens the organization in other areas.

Your association certainly has an ideal culture in mind. That philosophical notion is put into concrete terms through things like a mission statement, specific member benefits, the type of education sessions offered at conferences and how staff communicate with members. All these things combine to define what your association represents and what it’s known for.

Good association culture is not a new thing and social media alone doesn’t create a culture of success, but it can highlight it, underline it and put an exclamation at the end of it.

Here are a few examples of what culture your association would want perpetuate and how social media could help

A culture of knowledge

If you want your association to be the go-to resource for industry knowledge, social media can give you a helping hand. Your association’s goal might be to provide the most up-to-date research and relevant content to help members. Online platforms are a hugely effective way to spread information. You can reach hundreds or thousands of people with a link to your latest publication or a research report through Twitter. You can write a blog outlining how to deal with new legislation that affects members. You can post a how-to video on YouTube that helps guide members through difficult times, such as a natural disaster. By getting that information out in large amounts and making it accessible to all strengthens your association’s culture of knowledge.

A culture of customer service

If you want to maintain a culture where members, sponsors and industry professionals feel comfortable communicating with your organization and get great service, social media is a the perfect tool for you. Any online platform cultivates instant two-way communication. For example, Twitter allows a member to ask a question of an association or comment on one of its services and receive a timely, tailored response. Social media allows your organization to be accessible and transparent to its members, which is a great asset for when non-members or potential sponsors want to find out more about your organization, but aren’t ready to take the step of calling, emailing or walking into the office.

A culture of community

Every association wants to create and grow a culture of community and make the organization a place members think of when they want to connect with colleagues. Social media was built to create a tighter community for people with similar interests or career aspirations, which makes it perfect for associations looking to instil this culture. Your association can stimulate conversation between members and those in the industry through social media, as it gives people a platform to connect with people they may never otherwise talk to. Having an association LinkedIn page is a great example. By creating informative posts and putting forward conversation topics, your association can build a sense of belonging and inclusiveness for members.

A culture of excellence

If you want members to think of excellence and accolades when they hear the name of your association, social media may be one of your best friends. One of your association’s main goals is undoubtedly to help advance the careers of its members. One way to do this is through programs that promote striving for success, like awards or professional designations. Marketing these programs can get a huge boost from social media, as it creates a culture of recognition that others want to be part of. Recognizing members and accomplishments is done best when there is a large audience and social media is great in this regard. For example, you can highlight a member who just won an award through Twitter, a blog, a YouTube video, Instagram, Vine or Facebook. The more you get the word out, the more your association’s culture of excellence grows and flourishes.

3 Resolutions For Social Media Managers in 2015

New Year’s Eve has come and gone and it’s been a week since hundreds of thousands of people have started on their New Year’s Resolutions. Don’t worry, social media managers don’t need to feel left out of the party. Every day, week, month and year offers new challenges and opportunities for non-profit, association and small business marketers. If you’re having trouble coming up with some marketing goals for 2015, you’re in luck; we’ve taken the liberty of laying out three suggestions for you.

Try a New Platform

It’s more than likely that you’re comfortable and successful with one, two or even three platforms. Maybe you’ve taken your organization to new heights with Twitter or have blazed a trail for your business on Instagram. That’s great, but if you never try new things, you’ll never evolve and grow.

Experimenting with a new platform doesn’t need to be done haphazardly. Don’t just pick a social media channel randomly. Analyze your options and resources. Maybe your organization has some stories to tell and can use YouTube to accomplish this goal. However, be aware of your limitations. Videos are a great way to tell a story, but if you do not have the equipment, budget or time to create videos, maybe it’s best to tell your story in another way, such as a blog. Whatever new social media venture you decide to do, research, work hard and be patient with the results.

Analyze Some New Numbers

Your probably already know how valuable data is to the success of your organization’s social media strategy. You analyze the numbers regularly and make judgements about the effectiveness of your tweets, Facebook posts, pins, etc. Just as you’re comfortable with certain platforms, you’re most likely comfortable with parsing the same statistical categories every week, month or quarter. However, it’s time to mix it up.

Look at some different categories or analyze old categories in different ways. For example, look at which days of the week receive better responses for your Facebook posts over a number of weeks or months. Alternatively, you are probably keeping track of the Twitter followers your organization gains each week or month. Go one step further this year and calculate the number of key influencers that are among these new followers and analyze the cost-per-key-influencer. Just as with picking a new platform to experiment with, picking new numbers shouldn’t be done out of left field. Have a purpose for the stats you decide to look at more in-depth and use them to colour-in the picture instead of just doodling with them.

Get More People Involved

Although social media is all about interacting with others, managing an organization’s account can often be a solo pursuit. It shouldn’t be. Make it a goal this year to get your colleagues, volunteers or employees involved in your organization’s social media efforts. Getting a little more buy-in from the whole team will go a long way to a successful year.

We’re not suggesting that you get others to do your job for you. We understand that everyone has a role to play in the organization and business and sometimes resources don’t allow for very much participation outside of those roles. Instead, find small things that people can do on a weekly, monthly or even quarterly basis to help the social media strategy. For example, ask your volunteers to write a guest blog detailing their experience with the organization, create a video with your colleagues explaining why they believe in the work your association is doing or ask your staff to get three of their friends involved in your business’s online contest or promotion. These small things will definitely add up and help give your organization the boost it needs.

What Four Christmas Traditions Can Teach Organizations About Social Media

In case you needed a not-so-subtle reminder to do some last minute shopping or stock up on eggnog, Christmas is on the horizon. There are only three more sleeps until the big day when presents, food and family abound.

Everyone has their own Christmas traditions during the holiday season, many of them serving as a reminder about the importance of sharing, kindness and hope. However, these traditions can also teach you a lot about social media management.

Yes, leave it up to us here at Incline Marketing to link jolly old Saint Nick to Twitter, Facebook and all those other online platforms. Here’s a thing or two about how Christmas traditions can teach organizations about social media management:

Milk and Cookies For Santa

Leaving milk and cookies to sustain Santa Claus on his gift-giving journey is a fun and long-standing tradition for many families around the globe. Doing your own online version of milk and cookies can help give your association, non-profit or small business a boost.

In the social media world, cookies and milk are the content that sustains your audience. The truth is, people connect with you online because they find value in what you have to say. When they no longer find value in your content, they don’t stick around long. Make sure your content is equal parts exciting (cookies) and practical (milk). Offer a variety of content and see which posts are gobbled up quickly and which ones are left half-eaten. By taking stock of how your content is received, you can cater to the needs and interests of your audience in a more efficient, effective way while maximizing your return on investment.

Decorating the Tree

Decorating the tree is a valued holiday tradition for one key reason; it allows you to gather your family together and have fun working as a unit to achieve a goal. When you’re finished, you can stand there with your loved ones and admire the work you’ve done together.

The lesson that comes out of decorating the Christmas tree is that everything is better with company and that includes improving your organization. Social media gives you the opportunity to engage your audience, ask questions and use crowdsourcing to bolster programs and initiatives. Don’t turn down this chance to include your members, donors or customers. Ask members what educational topics they want covered at your association’s next conference. Have your customers vote on which product they want kept on the shelves. Give your donors a chance to tell their story on a blog, Facebook or a video. When all is said and done, your community will look back and feel like they are truly a part of your organization’s progress, which only strengthens your following.

Putting up the Lights

Installing Christmas lights on the outside of your house is an annual lesson in patience and creativity. The same can be said for designing and maintaining your social media accounts.

First impressions are critical on social media and when someone visits your organization’s profile, they’re going to notice and respond to what it looks like. There are a few crucial elements of designing and updating your social media accounts. Just like with Christmas lights, where one broken bulb effects the whole string, one neglected space on your profile will ruin the entire experience for potential connections. Make sure your photos are filled out, updated regularly and are sized right (which is often where patience comes into play). Ensure your About and Contact sections are clear, concise, accurate and free of spelling and grammatical errors. Pay attention to the details. Different platforms have specific elements that require attention. For example, make sure your blog posts are tagged with relevant words, your pinned tweet is updated and the profile pictures on your Pinterest boards are relevant.

Singing Carols

Getting into the Christmas spirit is often as easy as going door to door singing your favourite seasonal songs or starting a sing-along at family get-togethers. The most important thing about carolling is that everyone is on board with the activity. If one or two people are not into it or are off key, it can throw a wet towel over the whole thing. Getting total buy-in is also important with your organization’s social media efforts.

Your staff, colleagues, board of directors and volunteers all need to understand and contribute to the effectiveness of your social media strategy for it to be successful. Start by explaining how social media can help achieve your organization’s mission and goals. Use examples and numbers and relate it to everyone’s specific job or area of expertise. Keep great records and provide ROI analysis to prove the value of everyone’s efforts on the online platforms. Offer to give tutorials to those who want to get a hang of social media and give your colleagues a chance to contribute to your efforts in a meaningful way. This can be done by crowdsourcing content, asking them to write guest blogs or including them in videos, photo albums or other visuals.

Advice for Three Common Challenges that Social Media Managers Face

Social media is a pretty great marketing tool for associations, non-profits and small businesses, but it’s not perfect and it comes with its own set of challenges. Challenges can be a good thing when they push you and your organization to confront flaws or pursue creative options to get around them, but when all they do is waste time and resources, no one has fun.

We’ve put together a list of three challenges that online marketers inevitably face when striving for success and added some advice for overcoming these obstacles.

Challenge: Finding Content

Advice: Social media is a constantly hungry beast, and by that we mean your audience is always going to be looking to digest new content from your accounts. If your organization is not posting consistently, it will quickly fall from relevance and crucial audience members will lose interest in your message. The one problem with this is finding enough content to serve on a daily or weekly basis (depending on the platform).

But do not fear, there’s lots of content to be had, you just need to know where to find it. Lists can be a social media marketer’s best friend and they come in handy with solving this challenge. Make lists of where you have received content before and check them regularly. If you’re just starting out, here are some places you can mine for content gold: Your followers (they’re a wealth of knowledge in your field/industry/cause), LinkedIn groups (where people are passionate and vocal), media outlets (newspaper are always churning out hard and soft news that’s relevant), comment sections (good source of new perspectives for blog posts) and the people you see every day (whether it’s members, volunteers, staff or customers, ask them what’s new; you’d be surprised about all the interesting tidbits you can get out of it). Last, but not least, take some time, brainstorm ideas and create content yourself! That’s always the best kind!

Challenge: Gaining Followers/Likes/Views/Etc.

Advice: This is a major source of stress for many a social media manager the world over. If no one is listening, it doesn’t matter if you’re saying the coolest thing in the best way. The keys here are to focus on quality before quantity, be a social butterfly and stay patient.

When you are connecting with people on social media, make sure they are members of your target audience. For example, if you decide to follow 300 people on Twitter, but 250 of them have a vague or non-existent tie to your organization’s mission, you’re not getting value from your efforts or loyal followers for the future. Craft a description of the perfect member of your target audience and find them on your chosen platform. They will be more likely to follow back, engage with you and encourage others to do likewise.

The second piece of advice is to be a social butterfly, which means to engage, engage, engage! Talk on Twitter chats and LinkedIn groups, mention people and other organizations and share the content of other accounts (while attributing it to them, of course). The more you become familiar to people, the more likely they are to see you as both friendly and useful. In many cases, this will lead them to connect with you as well.

Lastly, attempt to be as patient as possible. Great social media accounts aren’t built in a day, unless of course you’re a multi-national super company like McDonald’s or Coca Cola. It’s going to take time to attract followers, but the pay off is great in the long run. Keep being consistent, relevant and engaging and connections will follow. Do not abandon your efforts after a few short months of discouraging months because that decision is often short-sighted and damaging for future marketing initiatives, both online and off.

Challenge: Battling the Time Crunch

Advice: Some days are busier than others; those are usually the days when social media gets left by the wayside. Blogs are left stagnant, Twitter feeds remains dormant and Facebook posts begins to go stale. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; consistency is an ever-crucial element of social media success and even one or two forgotten days can set you back weeks. However, there are time-saving methods that can help you be more efficient and effective.

First and foremost, always make a content calendar. Content calendars help you organize your thoughts at the beginning of a week or month so you’re not scrambling around every day trying to find content or things to post. It may take an hour or two to build, but a well-done content calendar will save you at least double that during a busy period at the office.

Set up a Hootsuite account. Hootsuite you to schedule Twitter and Facebook posts ahead of time, which helps you prepare for a busy week. For example, if you are heading to a conference or stuck in meetings all day for the next three days, schedule your daily tweets with Hootsuite. This help you accomplish social media consistency while not having to stay at the office late to achieve it.

Social media is one place where hoarding is good, especially when you’re looking at a packed schedule. Capitalize on down time or a light work load by writing blog posts, finding shareable content or putting together interesting visuals and storing them away for busy times. This will help you quickly post things for when the unexpected comes your way.

6 Ways Social Media Can Help You Promote Your Association’s Conference

There’s no two ways about it, conferences are a vital part of most associations. They generate a large chunk of the organization’s non-dues revenue and they provide attendees with a collection of services that make the association valuable and worth investing in, like education and networking.

The difficulty lies in signing people up to go to a conference. Annual association get-togethers usually cost a decent sum of money and often include traveling, which means time away from work and family. Therefore, it is essential to have the best product in order to entice people and make it worth their while. Promoting the excellence of your association’s conference can be done with the traditional means; direct mail, phone calls, magazine ads and the like. But it can also be done effectively and less expensive with social media. Here’s how:

Infographics

Infographics are a great way to take cold, hard numbers and turn them into engaging visual displays that highlight the value of attending your association’s conference. You can have all the statistics you want on comparative pricing, hours of education, number of trade show sales and other figures, but if no one is paying attention, it’s useless. Infographics draw the attention of potential attendees, extract the useful facts and figures from a range of numbers and illustrate the value of the conference in plain language. As a bonus, infographics can be shared on almost every online platform, from Twitter to a blog to your website.

Video Tour

A lot of potential attendees need to see it to believe it. What this means is that the conference is an abstract idea with little concrete value until they have visual evidence to make it a reality. Video tours can help make your conference a reality and assure members that your organization is doing things with quality on its mind. Making a YouTube video of the venue and the city where the conference will take place puts an image into the minds of potential attendees and encourages them to confront the possibility that going to the conference might just be a great experience. As a bonus, these video tours may help potential exhibitors and sponsors envision a role for them at the event.

Interview

Posting an audio, video or written interview on your social media platforms sends a message along the lines of, “Don’t just take our word for it, check out what attendees like you have to say about the conference.” Conducting an interview with an attendee of a previous conference provides potential attendees with the perspective of someone who in in their shoes and who they may trust a little more. Choosing to interview someone who is well-known in the industry will also provide more legitimacy to the strategy and will probably lend itself to being shared more online as this individual most likely has a larger than average network.

Pinning Conference/Travel Tips

We already touched on the potential benefits of infographics to your conference promotion strategy and pins have much the same effect, but in a slightly different way. Pins provide the visual representation of useful information to potential attendees, just like infographics, but because pins are often smaller, stand-alone pieces of information, it’s gives your association the ability to let attendees personalize the content they store. For example, you can pin family-focused travel tips for the city where the conference is being held. An attendee who might bring their family will find this valuable. You can also post various schedules of education sessions that might appeal to certain segments of your membership and potential attendees can pin the ones they find most useful.

Giving Attendees a Voice in Program Planning

Social media has the power to give potential attendees more say in some of the aspects of the conference programming. Posing questions on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter about session topics, round table discussion issues or even food choices gives your association a chance to start a discussion about the event, encourages engagement among members and boosts awareness of the conference’s quality and value. It also provides potential attendees with an emotional investment in the process and final outcome, which makes it more likely that they will make a financial/time commitment. As a bonus, this will help you create programming that fulfills the goals of the conference.

Social Media Contests

Social media contests create a win-win situation and everyone loves a win-win. Contests can help your association promote its conference in two main ways; by directly increasing registration and by increasing awareness of the event. For example, if you promote a contest through social media where every registrant is entered to win a free trip to the conference, it encourages people to sign up. Similarly, if you create a contest where every retweet, like, share, comment, re-pin, etc is rewarded with an entry for free registration, it manufactors a situation where the reach and effectiveness of your promotion is continually growing.