Three More Ways To Engage Conference Attendees Through Social Media

Integrating social media into your association’s conference strategy is something we’ve talked about before and your organization may be old pros by now at using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., while at an event. You might be so used to live-tweeting updates or posting daily recaps of the conference on your blog that it seems tired and your attendees are losing interest. This is why innovation and fresh ideas are the gas that make the engagement train run.

Just like with membership drives, calls to action for lobbying or volunteer recruitment, your association needs to utilize some new approaches to attendee engagement to keep the attention of members. Luckily, we’ve put together three ideas that will give your conference a boost and allow your association to better engage its attendees.

Twitter Monitor

You might have seen this before at a conference or an event of some kind; a monitor showing tweets that use the event hashtag. When one of your attendees, speakers, sponsors or staff tweets out a comment using the hashtag, it appears on the monitor, which is usually set up in a high-traffic area, such as registration or by a networking space.

The Twitter monitor has a few benefits when it comes to attendee engagement. First, it encourages attendees to tweet with comments, pictures or videos of the event because of the 15-minutes-of-fame factor. Attendees can point to their tweet being broadcast to their colleagues and marvel in the novelty factor. Second, the Twitter monitor makes the social media platform even more accessible. Not all your members are on Twitter, so including them in this part of the event through a very public display of tweets can only boost engagement. Lastly, it is a great networking tool you can offer attendees. Their tweets have a better chance of being seen and noticed, which is a great conversation starter between to people who are eager to network.

There are a few different approaches that your association can take with this strategy depending on your budget and technological prowess. You can simply set up a large computer or TV monitor and set it on Twitter to the event hashtag. If you’re looking for a higher-end experience, there are companies that will bring in a screen that looks like a phone and have a program in place to post relevant tweets to the screen throughout the day. Regardless of the method, you must ensure there is a strategy to monitor the tweets coming in; you don’t want any profanity or inappropriate posts making their way onto the big screen.

An Unofficial Association Twitter Account

The attendees of the event who are on Twitter probably know all about your association’s account. They follow the account, know the voice and tone that is used and know what to expect when the account is tweeting at an event. Why not switch things up by keeping the official Twitter account to provide updates, recaps, information and the like, while also creating an “unofficial” association account to inject some fun into the proceedings?

So what exactly is an “unofficial” association account? It is a satirical or parody account that has the benefit of not having to be quite as proper, informative or formal as the official account. For example, there is the Twitter account for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and there is a Twitter account for Ghost of ASAE. Similarly, there is the account for the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open and an account for the RBC Trophy. The former are official accounts and latter are more fun, unofficial accounts.

So what is the benefit of these parody accounts? They let attendees have a bit more fun and cultivates a looser atmosphere for the event. Attendees can interact and follow along with the antics of the unofficial Twitter account while the account subtly promotes the event and the association. This increases engagement and gives attendees two views on the conference; one more education and one more entertaining.

A Digital Idea Wall

When we were at the CSAE’s Summer Summit in July, one of the best experiences we had was creating an idea wall. This activity included groups of 20 writing any idea they could think of to improve the CSAE on post it notes and sticking it to a large sheet of paper taped to the wall. At the end, the eight groups had come up with hundreds of great ideas and were asked to pick their top three, which we then talked about. It was a great exercise and one that can easily be transferred onto social media during your event.

The idea wall activity is one of those exercises that can be work both online and offline at your event. It may be a good idea to capitalize on having so many members in one place at one time by creating a physical idea wall that stands for the duration of the event. Take the momentum that is generated by this actual idea wall and turn it into a digital version that will spur engagement at the event and into the future. At the end of each day of the conference, take the ideas from the physical idea wall and make them into a collage on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and/or your blog. Generate conversation and engagement by asking questions about the collage and soliciting more ideas through social media. Keep it up after the conference by asking for more ideas or having a contest to see which idea members like best by having them vote via social media.

A digital idea wall has a few advantages for your association. It gives credit to those members who participated in the activity during the event, making it even more likely they will participate when it comes time for further opportunities. It was encourages members to interact with your association in a meaningful way, giving members a voice in the direction of the association. Lastly, it creates a talking point for attendees at your conference, which leads to more networking opportunities and more reasons for attendees to approach association representatives with ideas, thoughts and feedback.

How To Mark An Association Milestone Or Special Occasion With The Help Of Social Media

Associations are no strangers to special occasions. They put on big events, celebrate the achievements of members and are often in the thick of things when something big happens in their respective industries.

However, while association’s are great at showcasing the greatness of others, they often lack this same zeal in marking their own milestones. Many associations have a rich history of improving their industry, providing services and helping members excel and celebrating this heritage is important to pursuing future success. This is an example of a huge milestone, but associations don’t need a 25th or 50th anniversary to make a hoopla over themselves, they just need a small victory, or even just a memory of one, to highlight its achievements and its value to its members.

Marking an association milestone is important, but your organization can’t organize a big event or call all its members every time it does something interesting or memorable. That’s why social media platforms are the perfect tools to mark these milestone. Here are a few ways you can celebrate some common association achievements using social media:

A Major Anniversary

Whether your association has been around for 10 years, 50 years or 100 years, an anniversary is a cause to celebrate. It’s an occasion not to only to mark the successes and loyalty of your members, but also the accomplishments and lasting value of the organization itself.

The great thing about an anniversary is that you have a fairly large period of time to work with. You can develop a strategy to roll out over a whole year, which means you can incorporate many different ways to mark this milestone. Creating YouTube videos to mark the history of the association is a great place to start. Make a video that interviews influential members from each decade your association has existed or a series of Heritage-Moment-like videos to showcase the history of your association. Profile key members, such as the founders, award winners and trailblazers, and other important moments in your association’s history through a blog, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. At the end of the year, create an online “Hall of Fame” for your association by taking these profiles, videos and posts and putting them all in one place, such as a dedicated Pinterest board or Facebook photo album.

A Great New Partnership

Partnerships are often a huge deal for associations and mark a turning point in an organization’s quest to provide better service, improve credibility, develop a stronger lobbying influence or attain another advantage. Marking this milestone is an important step in letting members know the association is stronger than ever before and consistently looking for ways to help them excel in their careers and in life.

Social media can help you mark a great new partnership in two main ways; by spreading the word and showcasing the advantage of your association teaming up with one or several other organizations. There are three words to help you spread the word of a new alliance through social media; share, share and share! Tweet about it, post it to Facebook, share through Instagram, write about it on your blog and put it up on LinkedIn. Your members don’t just want to know that the partnership is happening, they want to know how it’ll help them. Create an infographic blog post showing the direct value the partnership will have for members and share it to Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Host a Twitter chat and have representatives from the partnering organizations field questions from members or create a YouTube video where a member interviews these representatives and asks questions about the member value of the alliance.

A Government Relations Victory

Associations can lobby the government for years about one issue, so when the organization scores a victory, you’ll probably want to make the most of it, especially because it usually means big things and big changes to the way members go about their work.

Changes in government policy or legislation because of an organization’s lobbying efforts usually affects an association’s members in a quantifiable way. Use social media to highlight these positive effects and underline the association’s milestone. Use an infographic on your blog or create a video to take the milestone and turn the victory rhetoric your association uses into cold, hard numbers and facts that your members can relate to and use in their jobs. Go a bit further and profile a member, charting the ways in which a government relations victory will help him/her in the present and into the future. Share little, shareable facts, quotes and 140-character stories of the victory through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Lastly, don’t worry if you haven’t won a government relations victory in a while; celebrate the achievements of the past by creating a timeline-type blog post about previous lobbying milestones or mark the occasion by using the popular Throwback Thursday hashtag on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to share the anniversary of a monumental government relations victory.

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.

4 Pinterest Board Ideas for Associations

Pinterest gets a bad rap. For every person who finds value in the visual pin-board platform, there’s another dismissing it for only being a site catering to home decor enthusiasts and bridezillas. The latter group is really missing out.

Pinterest is one of the best platforms for information sharing, visual storytelling and generating ideas. These are the elements your association should be wanting to bring its members. Information, stories and ideas are the driving forces behind engagement and value, two of the most important mechanisms for retaining members and drawing in new ones.

This all sounds well and good, but we’re forgetting one of the most important parts of any successful social media account; content. Associations don’t usually have delicious gluten-free recipes or home decorating ideas to draw attention to them. So what kind of Pinterest boards should your organization create? We’ve put together four potential ideas for to help association answer that very question:

History

Many associations have a rich history and Pinterest is a great way to highlight your organization’s past. Creating a ‘History’ board isn’t just to create a sense of nostalgia for your audience, it’s can also showcase your association’s ongoing value. By showing current and potential members what your association has accomplished, it will encourage them to view your organization as a crucial part of the development of both their careers and the industry moving forward.

There are many ways your association can show off its history on Pinterest. Create a board that takes Pinterest users through the history of the association’s conference in photos. Highlight influential members from the past and their stories, such as the founders of the organization or a long-time member. Create a timeline of any element of your association, from its advocacy accomplishments to its evolution of benefits, and publish it to the ‘History’ board. All these ideas will allow members to see your organization is always willing to evolve to serve its community better, while also giving them idea on how to maximize value as a member.

Events

Events are among the most visual elements your association brings to its community. Members see information, they see friends and colleagues, they see schedules and the views of the locale that’s hosting the event and they see how you have set it all up. Pinterest gives your organization an opportunity to better control the way attendees and potential attendees see your event. This makes you able to maximize the value your attendees find in the event, making it a win-win for you and your members.

When you create an event board on Pinterest, there are two periods of time to maximize its effectiveness. Prior to the event, pin photos and information that will encourage members to attend and provide them with incentive to. For example, pin articles about the locale they will be visiting or an infographic guide to getting the most out of their visit. After the attendee has returned home, pin photos of the event with stories that go along with the picture. This gives a human voice to the project and helps members realize the value in attending that they may have not noticed before.

Member Recognition

Recognizing members is definitely underrated. Everyone likes a pat on the shoulder every now and then. While it’s common for associations to hand out awards and honour volunteers, shining the spotlight on members who accomplish something of note in their field will only increase your association’s value in their eyes. Telling their story through visuals and driving traffic to their organization is a great way to recognize members through Pinterest.

Create a board on Pinterest for member recognition and pin photos of either the member you are giving a shout out to or giving a visual representation of their accomplishment. In the description box, tell their story. Link the pin to their website, their organization’s website or their social media accounts. In addition to being recognized, the member will also appreciate the increased attention on their business. These actions will help members see the value in being part of your association’s community, where the voice of a large organization can help them get recognized more than they can on their own.

Blog Posts and Magazine Articles

Pinterest is a great way to distil your association’s written content into a picture and a concise description that will increase traffic to your website while providing value to members. Your association’s blog and magazine content provides members with up-to-date information, helpful tips and important notes about advocacy, best practices and association events. Needless to say, it’s stuff your members should be reading. Pinterest gives your organization a chance to make this information jump off the page and engage members.

When creating this Pinterest board, the key is visuals. Your content is already there for you, but you will have to think of a way to display it visually so that it jumps off the page. Creating graphics, posting photos of a familiar setting or face and adding keywords and an exciting headline to the description box are all ways to pique your audience’s interest. This type of Pinterest board is also a great idea because it keeps your account stocked with fresh content. You won’t have an event every month or an interesting historical fact every week, but your blog posts and magazine articles can be rolled out as they come or in small doses to keep things new and exciting for your audience.

Size Matters: Association Marketing And The Power Of The Short Video

Size still matters, but the meaning behind the saying has definitely changed when it comes to marketing.

When it comes to online marketing, the mantra “Bigger is Better” is out and “More with Less” is in, especially when it comes to video. The circulation of short clips is nothing new in social media circles (platforms like Instagram have been around and popular for years now), but they may be that fresh element that your organization needs to boost its marketing game.

The power of the short video can be harnessed by organizations of all stripes, from non-profits to multi-national corporations. You may be reading this and saying, “That’s all well and good for McDonald’s or Starbucks, but it’s really not for my association.” That might be true, but we implore you not to make a final judgement just yet, the following few paragraphs might change your mind.

Vine

Vine is the forefather of all other short-video-based platforms out there. It was founded almost three years ago and was purchased shortly after by Twitter. If you’re unfamiliar with Vine’s concept, here’s a little primer; the app lets users record and edit up to six-second-long looping video clips and share others’ posts with followers. Videos can also be shared on other services like Facebook or Twitter.

Now that everyone is caught up, the real question becomes, what does an association do with six seconds of video? The great thing about Vine and other short video platforms is that they don’t cost you a lot of time or money to create. Your association can get a message across without sacrificing hours on filming and editing a longer video. This is great for when you or your members are on the go. For example, at your organization’s annual conference or when you’re busy at a lobby day.

One of the most important rules to remember when creating a video on Vine is to keep it simple. Have one, very narrow goal for your video. Instead of making a vine about your entire day at the office, focus on one task you accomplished that most relevant to members. For example, if you received the latest issue of your association’s magazine, make a quick video of it being delivered, opening the box, showing off the cover and flipping through the pages. This not only conveys to members that the new issue is ready to read, but it shows that it comes from your office and is created by staff who care about the finished product just as much as they do.

Another crucial rule for Vine videos is to have fun with it and be creative. Six seconds isn’t a lot of time, so sometimes it’s best when you let the images do the talking. For example, if you want to show off your trade show, pick a vantage point and record the room as it fills up with people. Edit it together and create a mini time-lapse of the increase in trade show interest. Not only is this a great tool to bring in sponsors and exhibitors, but it lets attendees who aren’t in the trade show know that they are probably missing out on something they shouldn’t.

Instagram

Instagram may be better known for its photos and filters, but its video-sharing capabilities have increased in popularity since it introduced the feature less than two years ago. Instagram videos take a similar approach to Vine videos, but here’s the catch, they’re longer. Instagram allows users to record up to 15 seconds of video and post it using the mobile app. The videos can also be shared via Twitter and Facebook.

Instagram’s 15-second rule is interesting for associations because that time span is the average length of a commercial. It’s not too long and not too short, so your organization can get its message across without losing the attention of its audience.

Instagram videos are great tools for your association to make important announcements. In addition to sending out a press release, Instagram videos give your association a chance to hear it from a human voice and not just from words on a page. For example, when announcing the winner of one of your association’s award, have that member announce it through an Instagram video. They can elaborate on what it means to them to win the award. The emotion can be presented much better through video then in words and can inspire other people in the industry to invest in an organization that has so obviously helped one of their colleagues.

Just like Vine, Instagram videos should be fun once in a while. For example, record a special holiday message from staff and members at the association. It can be something fun, like changing the words to T’was the Night Before Christmas and having one person read one line each. Not only does this get staff and members involved in a fun project, but it lets members know that the association is a fun organization to be part of while putting a human face to the people who are working every day to make the association better.

Snapchat

Snapchat is like the secret society of short video platforms. The app allows users to share pictures or 15 second videos with their network, but the content only stays available until it is viewed and then it disappears into cyber space. The platform recently added a new feature that allows users to post videos that will stay available to their network for up to 24 hours, although this content also has a disappearing act after time is up.

One of the biggest benefits of Snapchat for any organization is the intrigue and exclusivity it creates. If your association is one to guard its benefits and services pretty closely and offer them only to members, Snapchat is a great way to ensure content is seen by your organization’s community first. Snapchat videos also have the potential to ramp of the excitement among members for your association’s big projects, like a conference or a big announcement.

One way for your members to get value out of Snapchat is to experience its exclusivity. For example, your association might post a video telling members where to find a special code that gives them a discount to your next conference, webinar or networking event. The video can stay up for 24 hours and be accessed only by the people you chose to share it with. Letting members enter your event through the velvet ropes is exciting and shows that you value their loyalty to the association while rewarding them for their investment in the organization’s initiatives.

Another way to harness the power of Snapchat videos is to give your association’s community several sneak peeks that will get them interested in a big announcement. For example, if you are going to reveal who the keynote speaker is at your conference, take a week leading up to the announcement to leave clues via Snapchat videos. This has the potential to get members guessing and paying attention when the announcement is finally made. This excitement will hopefully carry over into the actual event and generate better attendance and engagement.

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.

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.