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

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

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

First Thing’s First

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

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

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

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

The Basics

Retweets, Favourites, Replies and URL Clicks

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

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

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

The Next Level

Impressions

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

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

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

Average Engagement Rate

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

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

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

The View From The Top

Hashtag Clicks

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

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

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

User Profile Clicks

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

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

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

Three Ways Your Organization Can Freshen Up Its Social Media Content

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

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

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

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

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

1. Get Tweeting, March Madness Style

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

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

2. DIY Quotes Across Multiple Platforms

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

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

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

3. A “Life in a Day” Remix

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter Chat With An Expert

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

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

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

LinkedIn Conversations

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

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

Drop Knowledge With A Blog

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

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

Google Hangouts

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

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

Live-Tweet An Event

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

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

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

Grading Your Organization’s Social Media Efforts: The 5 Cs of Success

Evaluation happens on a regular basis. You can’t hide from it. From the small things, like checking to make sure there’s enough food in your fridge, to the large decisions, like where your career path is taking you, analysis is constant. Sometimes, it can be draining, over times it can be exhilarating, but it’s always necessary.

Evaluating your organization’s social media efforts are no different. Whether you’re a veteran or a relative newcomer to any platform, grading yourself on strategy and results is crucial to growing, improving and benefiting your organization as a whole. Assessing your own efforts is never an easy task, which is why we’ve created an easy-to-use grading system using the five Cs; consistency, creativity, completeness, calculation and crowd.

Consistency

Consistency is a fundamental part of even a mildly successful social media account. Without a consistent presence on any platform, engagement will fall off, your audience will leave and your efforts will amount to very little. When looking at how well your organization does in this category, you need to evaluate how often are you posting, how often key details are refreshed and how often you are responding to engagement.

What Gets You an A- Daily or weekly posting (depending on the platform), updating various sections of your profile on a regular basis, such as a profile picture or a pinned tweet, and responding to engagement in a very timely manner (within 6-12 hours).

What Gets You a B- Regular posting (daily or weekly depending on the platform) with infrequent or rare lapses, updating your profile on a semi-regular basis (ex. every quarter instead of every month) and responding to engagement only once a day.

What Gets You a C- Infrequent, but scheduled posting (such as once a week, bi-weekly or once a month on the same day, depending on platform), updating your profile every 6-8 months and infrequently responding to only selected engagement.

What Gets You a D- Infrequent, sporadic and unplanned posting (ie. tweeting once every two weeks on different days), updating your profile once a year or less and responding to very few interactions.

What Gets You an F- This is a failing grade that usually means your account is dead. There has been no posts in quite some time or ever, your account has never been updated (or, as we’ll see later, ever been completed) and engagement has been abandoned.

Creativity

Creativity is in the eye of the beholder, but it’s not quite as subjective as you might think. A lack of creativity leads to the dreaded B-word; boredom. Having boring content spells trouble for any social media account. Some things to consider when grading yourself on creativity are the amount of original content, the variety of content and the relevance of the content.

What Gets You an A- Original content appears a majority of the time and in many different forms, such as infographics, articles, videos and fun headlines. When using other people’s content, it is always relevant to your target audience and comes in many different forms and from diverse sources.

What Gets You a B- Original content is makes up roughly half of your posts and is a few key forms of delivery are used (ex. articles and videos). Posts are clear and concise. Re-published content comes from a regularly-used pool of sources and a vast majority is relevant to your target audience.

What Gets You a C- Original content makes up less than a quarter of posts and comes from a limited forms, such as only press releases. Posts are short and to the point with no added elements, such as visuals or imaginative headlines. Re-published content comes from a small pool of sources and strays from relevance at times.

What Gets You a D- Original content makes up less than 10% of posts or is non-existent and comes in limited forms. Posts are short, dull and/or copied from other sources. Re-published content comes from the same handful of sources and strays from relevance often.

What Gets You an F- A failing grade comes from hijacking other people’s creativity completely. There is no original content and a large majority of re-published content is copied word for word or is simply shared with no extra thought (retweeted, repinned, etc).

Completeness

A painter would only let their art be hung in a gallery when they feel the final brush stroke has been added. The same should go for your social media accounts. When certain elements of your accounts are left incomplete, it creates a lack of legitimacy, lowers accessibility and tarnishes the experience for your audience. Consider if all sections are filled in, if the settings are up to date and if the layout is appealing and formatted correctly.

What Gets You an A- All sections in the “About” settings are filled in, including contact information, a description of the organization and additional details like photos or membership tools. Photos spots are filled in and images are sized correctly, relevant and vibrant.

What Gets You a B- All sections in the “About” settings are filled in, but with few or no additional details or tools. Photos spots are filled in, but some images are sized incorrectly and/or clash with each other.

What Gets You a C- Some sections in the “About” settings are filled incomplete or out of date and contain few details and no additional tools. Only some photos spots are filled in and/or some images are sized incorrectly.

What Gets You a D- Few of the “About settings are filled in and the ones that are have spelling mistakes and/or are out of date. Only some photo spots are filled in, the images are sized incorrectly and the images fail to show viewers what your organization is about.

What Gets You an F- A failing grade in this category means your account is a mere skeleton. None of the “About” sections are filled. Photo spots are not taken up by images (ex. the dreaded egg picture on Twitter) and the user experience is confusing or out of date.

Calculation

Remember how we talked about the importance of evaluation? Well, it’s vital to do an evaluation of how you evaluate. It’s key to know the response you are receiving from your social media efforts and if your goals are being achieved. Think about how frequently you are keeping track of results, how often you are analyzing these numbers and what strategy you have for using these results to improve.

What Gets You an A- An in-depth analysis of results on a weekly or monthly basis. A summary of these numbers into a detailed report. Development of a plan that uses these results to adjust and/or improve your social media strategy moving forward.

What Gets You a B- An in-depth analysis of results on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. A shorter summary of these numbers into a report. Development of a plan based on every two or three of these reports to adjust strategy.

What Gets You a C- An in-depth analysis of results on an infrequent basis, such as once a year. A very short or non-existent summary of these numbers into a report. No development of a plan based on these reports to improve your strategy.

What Gets You a D- A surface analysis of results on a very infrequent basis, such as once a year or less. No report to summarize and analyze these numbers. No development of a plan based on the numbers you have tracked. A limited understanding of how these results affect your strategy and how to improve them.

What Gets You an F- A failing grade in this category means you are completely unfamiliar with the process of tracking social media results. There is no analysis or report based on numbers and no process is in place to gather results. No plan has ever been instituted to examine strategy improvements based on data.

Crowd

It doesn’t matter how well you do on social media if no one is listening. Having an audience is important to getting the word out and achieving results. When measuring success in this area, you need to examine the size of your following, the growth rate of your audience and the percentage of your following that is your target audience.

What Gets You an A- While the meaning of a large following can differ from organization to organization, it should be equal to more than your target audience. For example, if you’re an association with 1000 members, a large crowd would be 1100+. If you’re small business with 5,000 people in your neighbourhood, a large crowd would be 5,500+. Your audience sees a steady and/or daily increase in its audience. More than 75% of your audience is your target demographic.

What Gets You a B- The following is 75-100% of your target audience (ex. 750-1000 for the aforementioned association). Your audience grows steadily, showing a small increase from month to month. Your following is made up of 50-75% of your target audience.

What Gets You a C- The following is 50-75% of your target audience (ex. 500-750 for the aforementioned association). Your audience is stagnant or shows very little growth from month to month. Your following is made up of 25-50% of your targeted audience.

What Gets You a D- The following is 10-50% if your target audience (ex. 100-500 for the aforementioned association). Your audience is stagnant or shows frequent losses from month to month. Your following is made up of less than 25% of your targeted audience.

What Gets You an F- A failing grade in this category means that no one is interested. You have a very small or non-existent following amounting to less than 10% of your targeted audience. Your audience shows no growth or frequent losses from month to month. Your following is made up of very few members of your target audience and is full of spam or irrelevant accounts.

10 Things Associations Can Say With Video, In Honour of YouTube’s 10th Birthday

My, how time flies.

It seems like just yesterday that a young YouTube was entertaining us with Charlie Bit My Finger and Double Rainbow Man while making our mouths water with all the marketing and awareness opportunities it presented. And now YouTube is 10-years-old.

The video-viewing platform has aged well and is still be a terrific option for associations looking to engage with its members. In fact, we have put together 10 examples of how your association can talk to members through YouTube in honour of this milestone. Here they are:

“Look How Our Staff Helps You Every Day”

It’s easy for your members to see your association as a series of circles on their calendar. April is the month to pay dues. July is the summer networking event. November is the yearly conference. YouTube is a great way to show people that your organization is more than just the sum of these flashy events. One way to do this; create a “Day In The Life of Our Office” video. Show members what your staff do every day, what projects and services they are working on and how they define success for members and the association as a whole.

“Here’s How You Can Get The Most Out Of Your Membership”

Members usually have a tough time justifying the expense of membership if they aren’t using the services that come along with it. Sometimes, the reason for this is they don’t know what services are best and how to access them. Underline the value of membership and help members develop their careers by creating a video or a series of videos that highlight lesser-used services or a package of benefits and showing members how to get the most out of them. It will be a small investment with a potentially huge return.

“Our Annual Conference Is Pretty Awesome for Members”

Your annual conference is awesome; you know, your staff know it and your planning committee knows it. Members might not know it, yet. Similar to membership, conferences are often a big expense that people can’t justify without knowing what exactly their getting. Next time you go to your conference, come prepared with a camera. Film all the different aspects of your event, capture what sets your association apart and interview attendees. Put it all together and showcase the sights and sounds of your conference. It will help your association make a more vibrant pitch to members who are on the fence.

“Check Out How Valuable Exhibitors Think Our Trade Show Is”

It’s getting tougher and tougher to convince potential exhibitors that paying for space at your trade show is worth it to them, especially with social media opening up quick and inexpensive opportunities for businesses to reach clients. Nothing will help persuade them to make the investment like hearing the return on investment from a competitor. Create a testimonial-type video with a number of exhibitors mentioning the benefits of your association’s trade show. Interview attendees about the value of the trade show as well. Businesses may not listen to your association, but they will listen to customers.

“This One Member Is Pretty Awesome For These Reasons”

Everyone likes to be recognized. Your association is in the unique position to give exceptional members some attention. In doing so, your organization is setting itself apart by providing members a spotlight in a competitive industry or by simply being known as an organization that rewards loyal, hard-working members. If you hear of a member who has done something interesting or has achieved a big goal, ask them if you can profile them with a video. Tell their story and show other industry members how much more exposure they can gain through your association.

“Learn A Little Something About Our Board Members”

Your Board of Directors is a large influence on your association. The decisions it makes affect every aspect of the membership experience. If your members don’t know your Board, they can’t understand or believe in the choices they make. Creating a video introducing your Board to members is a great way to make your association’s governance more relateable. Videos are an especially handy tool for when a big, association-changing decision is made. You can write press releases all day explaining the logic behind the choice, but hearing it directly from the top (your Board) helps members get used to it faster.

“Look At Our Advocacy Efforts And How They Benefit You”

Associations can set themselves apart through advocacy. The logic behind effective lobbying is “strength in numbers” and this is what associations provide. However, the value of advocacy is often abstract for not easily quantified. Therefore, showing members how your association has their back on important legislative issues with video can add proof to your organization’s claims of value. Create quick clips of your association’s trip to government, film a press conference to make it easier for media to access and interview members on the issues that matter most to them.

“Here’s What We’re Doing For Young Members and Students”

It’s great to recognize long-time members, but it’s also crucial to attract the next generation of professionals to ensure the long-term health of your association. Create a video showing how young members can thrive by joining and participating in the organization. Film events your association provides for young professionals, showcase the awards available for students or interview a younger member about why they feel your association is valuable and a great tool to climb the ladder.

“Check Out This New Member Service, It’ll Help You Out”

Here’s the scenario; your association has just come out with a new service for members and all the staff is excited to launch it. There’s only one problem; your members don’t know anything about the new service. A video will add to your marketing and awareness efforts by explaining to members how to get the most out of this new service. Videos are a useful tool for this purpose because it can provide a explanation for members without overwhelming them with page after page of words while helping them with the addition of visuals, including charts, graphics and point form guides.

“This One Veteran Member Is A Star Of The Industry, Hear Us Interview Him”

Veteran members are a great source of compliments for your association. Your association has probably been a valuable resource for this member which is likely the reason they have stayed with you for so long. Film a short interview with this veteran member and talk with them about their accomplishments. Ask them about their commitment to the association and how it has helped them develop professionally. Hearing the value of your organization from a trusted colleague in the industry will help convince potential members that it’s worth following their lead.

Thinking Outside The Mail Box: What Email Can Do, Social Media Can Do Better

Email has been the champion of mass communication platforms for a long time, and for good reason, but no one is perfect. Email has its limitations and its flaws, especially when you’re an association looking to expand its reach and better serve its members.

The time when email was the only way associations and non-profits connected with their community online is now over. Social media has long-ago inserted itself into everyday use for organizations looking to get the word out. Its not enough to send a regular newsletter to 1,000 inboxes or continually promote causes, events and news with email blasts any more. While email is still a valuable way to supplement your marketing and communications efforts, social media has evolved to arguably become the stronger of the two outreach methods.

If you’re still a little skeptical (or a lot skeptical), give us a chance to make our case. Here are three things that email does well, but social media does better:

Recruiting Volunteers

Volunteers are an important part of any operation. Whether its reaching out to members in an effort to fill committee spots or to the general public to help a cause, communicating your organization’s goals and convincing people to join in achieving them is no easy task.

Email requests for volunteers often fall on deaf ears. Unfortunately, they too often become text-heavy nuisances that get lost in the sea of other important messages your members receive on any given day. Social media, on the other hand, allows your organization to be in the right spot at the right time while also highlighting how volunteers can make a difference, not just in the lives of others, but in their own as well.

The majority of LinkedIn users are looking for a professional leg-up. Your LinkedIn page/group is where your members or community go to share their expertise in the form of articles, network and seek out opportunity. This makes LinkedIn the perfect place for your organization to advertise its need for volunteers. It’s a perfect match between opportunity-seeker and an organization in need. Additionally, LinkedIn’s Non-profit Volunteer Marketplace offers organizations a dedicated space to post opportunities and appeal to those who are specifically looking for volunteer roles in their community.

Besides LinkedIn, infographics and videos allow an organization to chart out the value of volunteering with your organization. These tools, easily published on YouTube, a blog, Twitter and Facebook, answers the question, “What’s in it for me,” that many in your community might be asking. Rather than giving a vague, down-the-road response, show the pay-offs quite clearly. For example, if your association is looking for volunteers to join the a committee, chart out the impact their decisions could have on the organization or create a video in which current committee members explain how their participation has benefited their career.

Promoting Events

Nothing says “typical, old event” like a half-dozen, text-laden promotional emails leading up your organization’s conference or initiative. Let’s face it, if you do the same marketing over and over again, your community is going to start wondering if the event is going to offer anything other than what they’ve already seen in past years.

Social media offers your organization a host of new ways to promote your event that compliment your email regiment and draw attendees, both loyal ones and newbies. We’ve covered many of the ways in which social media can help promote your organization’s event and when comparing these opportunities with what email offers, its not much of a contest.

The opportunities that social media gives your organization in promoting events can be split into two main categories. The first is proving value. We showcased the ability of infographics and video to convey value in the previous section on recruiting volunteers and the same can be said for promoting events. Tweets and Facebook posts also allow your organization to focus on one area of your events that will help provide value to potential attendees without overloading them with information or a hard-sales approach. But probably the most effective approach in convincing someone to attend an event is to hear it from someone they can relate to. Blog posts can do wonders in this area. Have a member write a post about their good experience at an annual event or something along the lines of, “Five ways to get the most out of the annual conference.” This will help members see that your attempts at promotion are not driven solely by money, but by a genuine desire to help your community.

The second of the aforementioned categories is giving your community a voice. When you allow your community to help shape the event in small ways, it will help build their faith in the value of the event and pride in helping shape it. Social media gives your organization the ability to accomplish this crucial task. Tweets, Facebook posts, blog comments and contests that can be spread over multiple platforms allow your community to chime in on everything from catering choices to lecture topics, entertainment selections and the registration process. While it is important to give your community a voice, provide carefully thought out options for key elements of your event or risk committing to something that’s over budget or impossible to deliver.

Interacting with Members

Interacting with members has always been important. Keeping your association’s community informed about organizational news, industry trends, important legislation and feedback opportunities, such as surveys, has always been a way to support members. With the advent of social media, increased interaction between member and association has become expected. While email does allow the dissemination of information, it doesn’t quite lend itself to the back-and-forth of conversation like social media does.

Email is great for relaying basic information, but social media gives associations the opportunity to showcase different perspectives of issues and initiatives. For example, an email about an association’s lobbying efforts is an effective way to convey information and updates, but a video, a blog post and/or live-tweeting give members more access to both knowledge and value, while allowing them to comment and join in.

Social media also allows your association’s members to ask questions and get the specific answers they are looking for, something unavailable or overwhelming with mass emails. The best example of this comes from platforms like Twitter or Facebook. Members are given the chance to ask questions, such as, “How do I access the online version of the association’s publication,” and get a timely and tailored response. These platforms are also conducive to asking for and receiving feedback. Posting a poll on Facebook or tweeting out a question, such as, “What was the best part of last week’s conference?” gives your community an opportunity to respond and take part in shaping their own organization.

Lastly, social media is a great tool for association’s to help stimulate conversation not just between the organization and members, but between members and their colleagues. LinkedIn discussion boards and Twitter chats are platforms that organizations can use to promote conversations and increase the amount of networking and information provided to members. Email is an unlikely source for this sort of all-way, timely and flexible communication.

5 Ways to Integrate Social Media into your Association’s Next Membership Drive

There are two types of members when it comes to membership drives; those your association wants to retain and those your association wants to recruit.

While this is simplifying things a little too much, it does highlight a significant point for associations and their membership strategy. It’s vital that organizations think about their different audiences when it comes time for a membership drive and tailor their communications to each segment.

Social media is one communications tool that associations can effectively use to connect with different demographics during a membership drive. Just like other media, online platforms don’t follow the one-size-fits-all motto. That’s why we’ve taken a look at the five people your association encounters during a membership drive and how to draw them to your organization through social media.

The Loyal Member

Everyone likes a little recognition, especially members who have invested in your association time and again. Social media give your organization a perfect platform to offer these members something in return.

Your association can profile a long-time member on its blog or in a video. It’s also a great idea to post about loyal members on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms during a membership drive. For example, tweet that a member has been a part of the association for 30 years and one interesting fact about them. Not only does this show loyal members that they are appreciated, it also highlights your association’s culture of recognition and shows others that they will be rewarded if they stick with the organization year after year.

The Lapsed Member

These are the members that your association has an on-again off-again relationship with. They were members for a bit, but haven’t paid the dues in a year or two. They’ve seen what your organization can do and didn’t find it worth their while. This where social media can team up with other communication tools and win back the hearts of lapsed members.

To create an effective social media strategy around lapsed members for membership drives, you first have to find out why they left in the first place. Using surveys or good old fashioned telephone calls can help you pinpoint the issues that created a rift between your association and lapsed members. Once you have this information, build your social media strategy around showing lapsed members how your organization has improved. For example, if lapsed members say they didn’t get enough out of events/conferences, create how-to videos on best practices in networking and getting the most value out of your association’s events/conference. Share these videos on several platforms and make lapsed members reconsider.

The Long-Time Non-Member

There are some people who aren’t members and have never been. These are the people that associations crave during a membership drive, but are often the hardest to attract. The reason for this reluctance usually focuses on a perceived lack of value that membership provides an individual. Social media, specifically infographics, can be a strong force in reversing this type of thinking.

Infographics jazz up the cold, hard numbers in an easily-readable, informative format, which makes it ideal to prove value to skeptical potential members. Crunch the available numbers on the value of benefits, programs and events and repackage them to create a positive overall picture of how your association helps members. For example, create a chart comparing the yearly spending of non-members vs. members, calculate the total savings and input it into the infographic. Infographics can be shared on almost any social media platform, which makes it a great way to reach a lot of people in any given industry and dispel any myths about a lack of value.

The New Non-Member

These are the fresh-faced individuals who are new to the industry and who your association will have to woo with a great first impression during a membership drive. Most of these potential members are part of a younger generation and are focused on networking to create a good foundation for their career. This makes for an interesting opportunity for your association on social media.

LinkedIn is a popular social media platform for young professionals looking to network and make a mark in an industry. Creating a LinkedIn group, posting articles and starting conversations is a great way to include young professionals and reinforce a culture of accessibility, customer service and learning. Moderating Twitter chats are another way to connect young professionals to industry veterans through your association and establish your organization as the go-to resource for career development. Writing blogs about relevant issues for young professionals can also highlight your association’s commitment to those who just entered the profession.

The Business Member

Industry professionals probably make up the bulk of your association’s membership, but business members (those who provide services to your main membership group) can be a crucial part of your revenue strategy and membership drive. Social media is a great way to convince potential business members to invest in your association.

One of the best ways to showcase the association’s value to business members is for companies to hear it from other companies. This means a simple guest blog can work wonders. Write a blog post that includes an interview with a current business member or, even better, recruit a loyal business member to write their own post. Focus the post on the benefits available to business members and how to best access these benefits. You can also present value in an infographic about trade show stats, sponsorship opportunities and other services.