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.