Four Ways Your Association Can Better Recognize Members Using Social Media

Everyone likes a pat on the pack for a job well done, which is one of the primary reasons associations have been so successful across the decades.

Let us explain; an association’s mission is to help their members excel in their industry and careers. Being recognized by a legitimate, well-known and well-respected organization is one way people can set themselves apart from the pack, which can lead to a job, a promotion, better salary, improved working conditions or any number of different benefits. This is why association services like award programs, professional designations and committees are popular. They give members a chance to be recognized and gain prestige.

So, if recognition is valuable to your members, and thus for your association, incorporating the concept into other areas of your organization can yield some great results. Fortunately, recognizing members on social media is fairly easy to do. Here are some ideas for how your association can shine the spotlight on members through online platforms, from simple to out-of-the-box.

Give Them A Shout Out

Recognizing members on social media can be as simple as mentioning them and their accomplishments on your association’s platforms. Make sure to keep track of the achievements of members, big or small, and highlight them. For example, if a member has cut their carbon footprint, congratulate them and their success with a tweet. If a member published a book or an article in a professional journal or was invited to talk at the local post-secondary school, include this information in a Facebook post.

Singling these members out for the small achievements they earn will not only make them feel appreciated, but will also go a long way to helping them show the world how accomplished they how much dedication they have for their job, which helps them in their careers. Giving your members a quick shout out on social media allows your association to give them this valuable exposure while saving resources to highlight the major accomplishments members attain.

Publish An Interview With Them

Conducting an in-depth interview with a member and incorporating it into your association’s social media is a great way to draw attention to your organization’s brand ambassador’s and their achievements. Their will always be special members, those ones who have been loyal to the association and have made a name for themselves in the industry. These are the members who win awards or get other major accolades. Recognize them by filming an interview and posting it to your YouTube channel or create a blog post featuring your discussion with this member.

The members who you are likely to focus on with this strategy are those who are either very experienced, are trailblazers or obviously stand out from their peers. Regardless of the reason for their success, they are role models for the rest in the industry. This is why profiling them in such a prominent way will not only make it obvious that your association appreciates them, but will let others in the industry know that part of being successful is being an active member of the association.

Create An Online Hall Of Fame

One of the highest honour athletes can receive is to be inducted into their sport’s hall of fame. Incorporating this concept into your association’s social media strategy can have the same effect on members. Create a “Hall of Fame” board on your association’s Pinterest account and profile a different member weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Use Instagram to accomplish the same thing, profiling a new member every so often and including a photo and description of their accomplishment, such as being one of the organization’s longest-serving members.

Other than having the moniker “Hall of Fame” next to their name, members will appreciate the relative permanence of this strategy. They are in elite company and will be able to enjoy that exclusivity for a while. This is particularly relevant on Pinterest where boards are featured prominently at all times, whereas tweets drift out of the public eye as time goes on.

Let Them Be Social Media Moderator For A Day

With great accomplishments come great power. This is what you’re saying to members who have achieved something great when you make them a social media moderator for a day. They can give their own insights, expertise and perspective when in charge of social media accounts, which boosts awareness of their own personal brand among those in the industry. For example, recruit your major award winner to lead a Twitter chat from your association’s account or take over your association’s Instagram account for the day to document a ‘day in the life’ of an award winner.

Not only does this strategy encourage engagement between members and one of their high-profile colleagues, but it also rewards a member who has done something extraordinary with the power to highlight the things that make them exceptional. In the era of increased personalization, this is a unique way to give members a chance to recognize themselves in their own way. This is truly something they can point to as not only an exciting experience, but one that raised their stock in the eyes of others.

What The 2015 Pan Am Games Can Teach Us About Social Media

The 2015 Pan Am Games officially closed last Sunday in Toronto and although the city still has the Para Pan Am Games to look forward to, this occasion gave the city and the entire country a chance to reflect on the achievement of its athletes and the process of hosting a major multi-sport event.

The lessons were plentiful and the opinions of experts and the general public alike shifted slowly from the opening ceremonies to the closing ceremonies. At the end of the day, the event was deemed a success by a vast majority of the commentators. Here at Incline Marketing, we always like to learn from successful organizations and events, so after examining what the Pan Am Games did right, we came up with four lessons from the event that can be applied to building a successful social media strategy. Here they are:

Plan For The Worst And You’ll Get The Best

Negativity reigned supreme among a majority of the local media and among the public before the Games started. The traffic was going to be absolutely, insanely horrible, no one was going to show up to the events and the newly built venues would be white elephants for decades to come. The Pan Am organizers heard these dire prophecies and worked hard at creating strategies to combat them. In the end, everything worked out as close to perfect as they could have, thanks in large part to the preparation of the organizers and volunteers.

A lot of people like to spout worst-case scenarios about social media too. For example, people fear that it opens them up to too much criticism or that the money/time spent on social media efforts is a giant waste. However, if you can plan effectively, you can take much of the sting out of these nay-sayers. Draw up a plan to deal with negative comments or sudden crisis on your social media platforms. Have guidelines that you and other staff should follow when posting to the organization’s Twitter account, Facebook page, etc. Develop strategies to measure your return on investment and achieve your goals. Having these plans in place will ensure that you’re prepared for the worst, but will most likely achieve the best.

Exclusivity Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

Part of the success of the 2015 Pan Am Games was its high level of accessibility. Tickets were relatively cheap and plentiful. Events were spread out across southern Ontario so people from different regions could take part. Open events, such as concerts, were held almost every day of the Games in popular spots. These are just some examples of how the organizers made the event inclusive and drew the attention of thousands of people that critics said would remain apathetic and disengaged.

There are many organizations that tout exclusivity as the ultimate reason for not only their success, but their very existence. In rare circumstances this may be true, but using wide-reaching exclusivity to draw an increased customer/membership base is generally an out-dated concept. When your organization makes content easily accessible through its social media channels, it is being inclusive. This inclusiveness gives people a sense of belonging, increases engagement and builds a community that people want to be part of. This is nothing but a win-win for your organization and its target audience.

Pride Is Powerful

Every single day throughout the course of the 2015 Games, Canadian athletes would say they performed at their very best because of the home crowd. When thousands of people are cheering you one and celebrating your every victory, no matter how big or small, it’s natural to want to work as hard as you can and give back to your supporters. The athletes were greeted by a wave of national pride and they rewarded Canadians with a record number of Pan Am medals.

Shining the spotlight on people’s accomplishments has a hugely positive effect on them outside of athletics too. Social media is a great vehicle for recognizing people in your community or a member/customer who has done something special. Highlighting their achievement in such a public way is an opportunity to show appreciation for the people who help make your organization a possibility. Just like support from fans, recognition in other industries is a two-way street. If your organization recognizes how hard you’ve worked to accomplishment something, you’re going to be more likely to renew membership, volunteer on a committee, subscribe to a newsletter or attend their next event.

Engagement Begets Engagement

By the time of 2015 Pan Am Games were winding down last week, the conversation was not about if the event was a success (there was no doubt it was), but if Toronto should host more international sporting competitions. People wrote about bringing the Track and Field World Championship or the FIBA World Championships to the city. And of course, the biggest clamour was for another bid on the Summer Olympics. This signalled a huge shift from the prevailing notion at the start of Games that Toronto was just too darn apathetic for a major multi-sport event to take off. But because the Pan Am organizers did such a good job at engaging the citizens of the city, Torontonians are wondering where they can get more.

Social media has these same addictive characteristics. The name of the game for a multi-platform strategy is engagement. The purpose of Twitter or Facebook or Instagram is to connect with your organization’s target audience and get them engaged and invested in the organization’s efforts, both online and offline. When engagement is fostered through social media, it becomes easier for your audience to see opportunities to get involved in other areas. That may be volunteering or attending events or simply referring your organization to their friend. The point is, engagement snowballs; when you make it easy to connect with your organization online, you open up your audience’s eyes to possibilities that exist in all areas.

Integrating Elements of Gamification Into Your Association’s Social Media Strategy

“The opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression.”

The above quote served as the introduction to a presentation on using the science of play to create better association events by Julie King during the CSAE Trillium Chapter’s Summer Summit. King would go on to talk about how play can engage an association’s members and, in another presentation, how organization’s can use the elements of gamification to create a better member experience.

While gamification (the practice of applying the typical elements of game playing to other activities) is often associated with mobile apps, there’s no rule saying that it has to be restricted to the online world. In fact, during King’s presentation, several discussions among attendees resulted in ideas for how associations can use gamification in all areas of their operation.

Having said that, gamification is a perfect fit for association’s looking to boost their social media efforts. By using some of the elements of game play in social media strategy, associations can engage members, promote their services and increase the value they add to peoples’ lives. Here are a few elements of gamification and some ideas on how to integrate them into your social media efforts.

Mystery

Nothing captures peoples’ attention like a good guessing game. Working towards a big discovery is a key part of game play and gives everyone an opportunity to not only focus on the end result, but on the experience and the process as well. Incorporating mystery into your association’s social media strategy every once in a while will give your members a chance to see what your organization has to offer from a different perspective while also giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Integrating mystery into social media can be as complex or as simple as your association wants to make the task. Achieving an air of mystery can be as simple as asking a trivia question about your organization or industry on Twitter or Facebook. For example, you can tweet the question, “Who was our first president?” or “What is the name of the article on page 12 of the latest issue of our magazine?” Racing to find the answer and be the first one to solve this ‘mystery’ provides an opportunity to engage with members, for members to achieve something and for you to drive traffic to areas of your association you want highlighted.

If you want to go a little more complex, social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat are ideal for creating mystery. Providing visual clues for members is a great way to get them engaged and invested in the outcome. For example, post a portion of a picture that defines the location of your next event and have your members guess where the annual conference will be next year. It’s a fun and engaging way to get your members thinking about an upcoming event and give them some stake in the outcome. You can even award a prize to the first person who guesses correctly, which brings us to the next element of gamification…

Reward

Everyone likes getting rewarded for their efforts against fierce competition, whether it’s a trophy for winning the big golf tournament or the accumulation of “money” in a video game. Rewarding your members for a job well-done on social media is a great way to engage members and recognize them for their efforts, which means they are getting more value out of your association.

Again, using a reward system on social media can be as small or as big as your association wants. For example, ask your members to submit ideas for topics they would like to see as a webinar or conference presentation. Collect them and pick a winner who could receive a discounted conference registration or free attendance at the webinar. You can even go a step further and take some of the best ideas and pit them against each other in a bracket-style showdown for the best one. Members can vote each day through Twitter and Facebook (and Instagram and Twitter and LinkedIn, etc.) and the person who submitted the top choice could receive a prize.

If you want to go for something even more creative, try a project like Twitter Bingo. Twitter Bingo works like normal Bingo, but instead of numbers for each of the squares, there are tasks that can only be completed through Twitter, such as retweeting the association, mentioning another member in a tweet and tweeting one fact about the association. You organization can send out the Bingo “card”, members would complete the tasks and send the card back with screen-shot proof and either receive a prize or be entered to win a big reward.

Narrative

Storytelling is one of the best ways to learn. That’s the reason children are taught important life lessons through fairy tales and nursery rhymes and why some of the most popular video games in the world have great story lines. Stories need a good narrative to be successful and there is no better place to get your association’s story out than through social media. By incorporating this element of gamification into your online efforts, your association can connect with members and help educate members about products, services and value in an engaging way.

Integrating a narrative into your association’s social media can be done in a multitude of ways, both big and small and at any point in between. Depending on the platform, the narrative is going to look different. For example, if you association is on YouTube and wants to create a narrative about its conference, you can follow a first-time conference goer around and film his/her experience, edit it together and tell the story of the event through the eyes of a newcomer. This allows you to highlight the event through a unique perspective and one that your members will value. You can also create a recap of your event on YouTube and Instagram or tell the story of an award winner, the organization’s lobbying efforts or its history through a blog or a Facebook post.

If you want to try something a little more complex with a narrative, you can create a Choose Your Adventure blog post to promote your next event. Create multiple scenarios around the story of attending your next event. Members will need to navigate through the scenarios to reach a successful end. This creates a situation in which members will subtly learn about the features of the conference while having fun and being engaged. It also incorporates the concepts of mystery and reward into one project, making this blog post an all-around gamification superstar.

CSAE Trillium Chapter Summer Summit Recap: Finding ROI in Social Media for Associations

Last Thursday, Incline Marketing’s president and founder Marc Cousineau travelled to the Canadian Society of Association Executive’s (Trillium Chapter) Summer Summit in Huntsville, Ontario, where he gave a presentation on calculating the ROI of social media for associations.

The presentation covered various aspects of an association’s social media strategy, from member value to data analysis, determining goals, writing progress reports and making conclusions on return on investment metrics. Although each and every association will have a different take on social media according to their specific strategy, goals and target audience, this presentation seeks to give a template that organizations can use to gauge the efficiency and effectiveness of their online platforms.

A huge thank you goes out to the CSAE Trillium Chapter for giving us the opportunity to share our insights and knowledge on social media and associations. Take a look at the presentation below and feel free to ask any questions or give some feedback in the comment section!

How Associations Can Use Instagram Videos To Add Member Value

Instagram isn’t a a new player on the social media scene, having been around for more than five years, but associations are just now starting to explore the possibilities that the photo-sharing app provides.

A recent Association’s Now article highlighted Instagram’s growing popularity among membership organizations. The use of Instagram among associations has risen from from 19 per cent to 30 per cent in the past year and it appears that the upwards trend will continue.

Although Instagram is primarily a photo-sharing app, the video feature gives associations one more tool to use to boost their communications and marketing efforts. Instagram videos are restricted to a 15-second time limit, so a lot needs to be said in a quarter of a minute. Here are three ways associations can use this time wisely and provide value to their members.

Conference Programming Videos

There is a lot of programming packed into a short period of time at most association conferences. Instagram is a great way to capture the day that was in short, bite-sized portions of content that attendees can easily interact with.

There are many options for associations when it comes to what they can put into a 15-second video about conference programming. Film a couple key parts of an educational seminar or key note speech and edit them together to give Instagram users a good summary of the presentation. Put together a few frames that showcase a networking event or night of entertainment for attendees. You can even get in the habit of creating a quick video explaining the itinerary for the day for multi-day events.

Not only will these videos give attendees a chance to interact with the association, they are also a great way to promote several aspects of a conference and give attendees an opportunity to experience several parts of the event even though they couldn’t or didn’t go to every talk, trade show or meet-up.

“Tip of the Day” Videos

Part of the value that any association brings to members is being a guide on the path to a successful career and being a provider of accessible, high-quality information. Instagram videos are yet another way for associations to be a go-to resource for your members.

Your association has access to a mountain of information that is useful to its members. This is evident in the number of journal articles, magazine pieces, newsletters, conference education sessions and daily knowledge that the association puts together and gives to members for their benefit. Condensing come of this information into a 15 second video is a great way to provide value to members with taking up too much of their time or attention. Create a video telling members about a new app that could relate to them or summarizing new legislation that effects them. Include practical advice and solid information and your members will thank you.

“Did You Know”  Videos

There are products and services your association provides and members love to use and then there are products and services your association provides that are less popular. It doesn’t mean these offerings are bad, it might just mean members aren’t aware of it. Instagram videos can help members discover the extra value in your organization.

The “did you know” videos can work much the same way as the “tip of the day” videos. Highlighting an infrequently visited area of your website, explaining a new service your association provides or detailing the benefits of an offering can have a big effect on how people use them and, in turn, how much value they get from your association. For example, take members through the process of creating a job ad for their organization on the association’s job board. Once the process is demystified and made more accessible, it is more likely that more members will take advantage of the service. Once more members take advantage, they will receive more value.

How To Measure If Your Association Is Reaching Its Target Audience On Twitter

Like any good social media manager, you’ve measured your Twitter account’s engagement and now sit on a glorious pile of positive data that confirms your organization’s content is indeed reaching a lot of people.

But is it reaching the right people?

If you don’t know the answer to this question, that pile your sitting on is built on a very volatile foundation that is likely to crack any moment, sending you tumbling back down to Earth.

So, how does one go about analyzing the audience it is reaching on Twitter? The best way to go about discovering how well you are communicating with your target audience is by measuring key influencers.

Defining and Counting Key Influencers

Key influencers are those Twitter users who your organization wants to reach. They are members of your target audience, but also individuals or organizations that have contact with members of your target audience. For example, if you are running an association’s Twitter account, a key influencer would be both a member of that association or a member of the media who publishes articles about the industry. In this way, you are counting both the direct and indirect pathways to increased brand awareness.

The first step in determining who your key influencers are is to establish what audiences your organization wants to reach. Think about the different categories of individuals or organizations that would be interested in your content and that your organization would want to connect with. Think about it this way; if Twitter was a matchmaking website, which users would your organization want to be paired with? These are your key influencers. Connecting with them means having a chance to be valuable to them. Adding value to their lives means an increased likelihood that they invest in your organization.

Breaking down your target audience into key influencers must be done according to your organization’s specific circumstances. Here is one example of how an association might define key influencers vs. non influencers

Key Influencers

– Individual Industry Members

– Organizations and Businesses in the Industry

– Industry Media and Communication Professionals

Non Influencers

– Individuals and Organizations with no Tie to the Industry

Once you have defined how you will count your organization’s key influencers, it is time to go through your list of followers and calculate how many key influencers are following your content. By calculating the total number of key influencers as well as the number for each category, you can get a better sense of your success rate with reaching your organization’s target audience. Remember, quality is better than quantity when it comes to Twitter followers. Having 500 followers with 300 key influencers (60%) is always more effective and efficient than having 900 followers, but only 150 key influencers (16.7%).

Measuring The Engagement of Key Influencers

Measuring the percentage of followers that are key influencers is helpful in establishing whether you are reaching your target audience on Twitter, but if you want to take the next step, you’re going to want to measure how well you are engaging these key influencers.

You probably know how to measure the engagement statistics for your Twitter account, but here is a quick refresher just in case: Counting interactions is one of the best way to determine how much engagement your account is receiving. Interactions include retweets, favourites, mentions/replies and URL clicks. Since determining who clicked on which link is extremely difficult to determine, we are going to focus on the first three engagement numbers.

Review your interactions on Twitter in monthly periods. Determine if each interaction was from a key influencer and or a non influencer. Determine the percentage of interactions from key influencers. It is also helpful to compare your monthly numbers to see your success from month to month and across broader periods, such as quarters or even years.

Calculating The ROI

The final step in determining your success with reaching your organization’s key audience on Twitter is calculating the return on investment. There are two numbers that are vital in determining the ROI; cost-per-key-influencer (CPKI) and cost-per-influencer-interaction (CPII)

Calculating the CPKI is done by using a simple formula. Define your date parameters (ie. the month of June) and calculate how much you spent on Twitter as well as how many key influencers you gained as followers during that period of time. Then, divide your money spent by key influencers and you have your CPKI. For example, if you spent $100 and gained 20 key influencers in June, your CPKI is $4. That is how much you spent to get the attention of a key influencer in June.

The second calculation, CPII, is determined by using a similar formula. Again, you need to define a time period (ie. June), calculate the financial investment during this period and how many interactions your account received from key influencers. Dividing the money spent by number of interactions gives you the CPII. For example, if you spent $100 and received 52 influencer interactions, your CPII would be $1.92. The lower this number, the better ROI you are getting. It is also helpful to compare this number to the money spent on gaining interactions from non-influencers. If the CPII is higher than this second number, you are not achieving success at reaching your target audience.

How To Treat Current Events And Trending News On Your Organization’s Social Media Platforms

Navigating the news on social media is a tricky business. Not only is there so much of it to wade through on a daily basis, but because of the 24-hour news cycle and the way we use technology, one story might be popular for what seems like a split-second before another takes it place.

The pace by which news is delivered these days is enough to make you throw up your hands in frustration and declare that you’re over it all. Not so fast! Capitalizing on current events and trending topics can be an important part of content marketing for your small business, association or non-profit. However, it has to be done right or your efforts will be in vain, or worse, backfire on you.

We’ve put together a list of newsy dos and do-nots to help you find your way among the maze of current event topics and use them to your advantage on social media:

DO keep tabs on current events and trending topics

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in routine and miss something that your organization can comment on or use for its blog, Twitter account or Facebook page. Look at at least one national and one local newspaper a day and keep your eyes peeled for interesting pieces on the trending topic sections on Twitter and Facebook.

DO NOT post about a current event if it doesn’t relate to your organization at all

Your organization’s online community listens to you for a reason; you provide good quality content on topics that they are interested in. They find the information you put out valuable because it is information they can use or relate with. If you are posting about news simply because it’s popular, but it has no ties to your organization, it can leave your audience confused, disgruntled, frustrated and bored. You might get away with it once, but don’t make it a frequent practice.

DO set up a keyword alert on Google News

Google: The ultimate tool for newsies everywhere. The Google News tool is a great source for news from around the world. Setting up a keyword news alert will help you and your organization find articles to share and ideas for blog posts and videos. It will also keep you in the know about the latest trends and topics. As a bonus, the alerts can also help you find mentions of your organization in the news that can be shared or addressed.

DO NOT have a knee-jerk reaction to negative news on your organization/industry

The news you find online about your organization or your industry may not be all sunshine and rainbows. There will always be negative reviews or an opinion piece that throws criticism in your general area. Firing back right away is always the quickest way to create a PR nightmare. Instead, take some time to build a well-thought-out social media response and ensure everyone in the organization is on board with it. Don’t wait a long time to make your case, but have a strategy in place before you do.

DO be respectful when considering a social media post about a tragedy

Tragedies in the news are a sad reality and our first reaction is often to join the many others who are sending messages of support to victims on social media. However, many companies have seen a backlash against social media posts mentioning tragedies, such as 9/11. Before you post about a tragedy, think very hard about how appropriate the message is and its relevancy to your organization. Consider if a day of social media silence is better or if a post from your personal account would be more appropriate.

DO NOT wait too long to post about relevant news

In the sections above, we’ve mentioned that you should pause before posting about current events. However, this pause shouldn’t be too long. The 24-hour news cycle makes it easy for you to blink and miss a trending topic. Create a framework for dealing with breaking news on social media so that when it happens, you can cut down on the time you spend weighing the pros and cons of posting about it and get in on the action.

DO give a fresh perspective on a piece of news that has been trending for a while

There’s only so much of the same basic run-down of a news story that people can read. If there is a trending event that has been popular for more than a day, brainstorm a fresh way to cover it. Tackle it from a different perspective, find a different angle, make it relatable to a different audience and talk to people who no one has talked to before. Being fresh will give your audience a reason to read your material over the same old stuff.

DO NOT hesitate to break news yourself

There’s no rule saying you can’t make the news! If your organization has a newsworthy point of view, tidbit of information or an innovative new way of doing things, make it known to the world. Develop a strategy to market the news through social media, including which platforms you’re going to use, what your message is going to be, how you’re going to keep it fresh, which audience to target, how you’re going to make it newsworthy to the media and how you’re going to handle any potential criticism.