How Managing An Organization’s Social Media Account Is Like Growing A Garden

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the grass is a healthy shade of bright green. Spring is in the air.

It’s the time of year when we throw off the shackles of our oppressive winter coats and don t-shirts and sunglasses. The warm weather also means that backyard gardens will be sprouting up all over the place in the coming weeks. This spring-time hobby is not only healthy and environmentally friendly, but it offers us a handy metaphor with which to talk about our favourite topic here; social media management.

Growing a garden is a lot like managing a Twitter account, a Facebook page or any other type of social media platform for an association or small business. So get your green thumbs ready because we’re about to dig up the similarities between the two activities.

Preparing Your Garden

Every good gardener knows that you can’t just throw a few seeds into a pile of soil and hope for the best. You must plan your garden and build it so that your seeds flourish. You have to find a spot with access to sunlight and good soil. You have to research the kind of vegetables or flowers you are going to grow in order to determine if they are suited to the climate and also how much care they need. You need to add fertilizer and perhaps fences. We can go on and on, but you get the idea.

Managing a social media account also starts with some good planning. You need to find the right platform to be on. Just as plants need sunlight to grow, your social media content needs an audience to grow. Pick the platform where your members/customers are, or, in other words, make sure the climate is suited to the type of goals you want to accomplish online. You need to plan what content you’re going to post and how often. You need to plan the layout of the account and who your target audience is. Needless to say, there is a lot of groundwork to do before you even start on social media.

Planting the Seeds

The next step in a successful garden is planting the seeds. Without dropping those tiny pieces of plant into the ground, your planning is all for naught. Again, you can’t just drop the seeds willy-nilly into the ground. Many plants have a specific depth you need to plant them at and the package of seeds often tells you how much space to leave in between seeds. Following these guidelines is important to growing a successful garden.

The seeds of social media strategy is the content you publish and you have to treat it much the same way you treat the beginnings of your garden. People interact differently on every platform, which means the way you create and publish your content has to be different as well. Tailor your style and voice to different platforms and research the frequency with which to post content. Remember, without posting good, quality content, your social media strategy cannot grow and produce results. Make sure you don’t “plant” your content haphazardly.

Watering Your Garden

Everyone knows that plants need water to survive. A plant without water wilts and droops and has a sickly grey colour to its leaves. We all know this, we all know the importance of water to gardening, but sometimes we get caught up in a busy schedule or simply get lazy and don’t water the garden, hoping instead that Mother Nature does the chore for us with rainstorms. This is a recipe for disaster.

Social media accounts need their own version of frequent watering. Not only do you need to be posting fresh content on a regular basis, but you also have to continually be looking for new ways to engage your audience and grow your following. Cover new topics or try new ways to tackle old topics. Add visuals and create contests. Always be on the look out for individuals you should be connecting with or communities you could be interacting with. This way, you will always be providing something refreshing to your audience, like a nice, big glass of water on a hot day.

Picking the Weeds

No one likes picking weeds. It’s back-breaking work and it’s time-consuming. But it’s absolutely necessary to have a great garden. Weeds steal the nutrients from the plants you actually want to have in your garden, stunting the growth of your vegetables or flowers. They also don’t look like the most aesthetically pleasing part of your garden, so you grit your teeth and get to work picking them out, which is why you’re such a great gardener.

Your social media accounts can also have undesirable elements ready to sprout up and threaten to dismantle your hard-won progress. Negative comments and criticism is inevitable on social media. You can’t please every body and some of those unhappy people will make their opinion known online. You need to deal with these situations immediately and in the right way. Picking out the “weeds” from your social media account is crucial because, if left unattended, the negative feelings and your practice of ignoring those feelings could have a big impact on your most loyal of followers. So pay attention to any negative comments and don’t let them attack your goals.

Staying Patient

Gardens don’t grow overnight. As much as we all want to put the seeds in the ground, sprinkle a little water on top, go to bed and wake up to find a field of ripe tomatoes waiting for us, it just doesn’t happen that way. All gardeners have to stay patient and put in the time and effort over several months to see the results.

Patience is also a virtue in the world of social media management. You (or your boss) might expect to see immediate results after starting up a social media account for your organization. You might want to tweet a few times, go to bed and wake up to find 1,000 people have followed your account. Sadly, it doesn’t work this way, unless you’re a multi-million dollar company or a movie star. You have to put the time and effort into your social media strategy to offer consistently valuable content to your audience. Trust us, if you mix hard work, creativity and time together, you will see results somewhere down the road.

Harvesting Your Crops

Here’s everyone’s favourite part of gardening; harvesting your crops. Whether it’s picking tomatoes you’ve grown yourself for a salad or arranging some flowers from your backyard for a friend, it’s a rewarding experience. Everything looks or tastes better when it’s the result of your own hard work and time. Harvesting your crops also offers a few lessons for the future. You can determine if you should have let your plants grow more or even if you should grow cucumbers instead of tomatoes next year.

Harvesting the results of your social media efforts can also be rewarding and a good way to plan the future of your organization’s online strategy. The first step is to collect the data. Reading and understanding the results of your efforts on any platform is the first step in knowing if you have been successful in achieving your goals. The next step in “harvesting” your social media results is analyzing what worked and what didn’t work throughout the process. For example, if the data tells you that your tweets before 10 am on a weekday received 34% fewer interactions than tweets after 10 am on a weekday, you can adjust your strategy to post more content at a time when it will bring a bigger return on investment.

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.

How Social Media Can Help Your Organization Prove Its Value

Bang for buck, return on investment, your money’s worth; it doesn’t matter what you call it, the importance of value to your clientele cannot be overstated.

Whether it’s members, donors or customers, it’s crucial for your organization to highlight its value to them. After all, they’re investing their hard-earned cash on your products and services.

Most organizations do provide as much value as they can, but it’s figuring out how to show this value that can be difficult. Words can make believers of some, but sometimes that doesn’t cut it. Visuals can be a powerful source of proof, but even those fall short sometimes. Videos can oftentimes act as the looking glass onto value. The great thing about social media is, you don’t have to pick just one of these mediums, you can combine all three!

Words

The written word is a powerful tool for your organization to underline the value it provides to its community. Fortunately, there is no shortage of opportunities on social media to use words creatively and effectively for this purpose.

Twitter may only allow you to write 140 characters per post, but even though each tweet is one drop in the bucket, it fills it up fast. Live-tweeting an event or initiative is one way words can have an impact on your community’s perception of your value. For example, if your association is advocating by conducting a lobby day, live-tweeting the process puts all the work the organization is doing into perspective. When, at first, a member may see a advocacy as a vague term holding little value, clear, brief and specific details, as they happen, will give members something more tangible. It also allows members to have more say in the process, adding value to their membership.

What Twitter does in 140 characters, blogs can do more in-depth. Having a blog section on your organization’s website allows for stories to be told about the work your organization is doing and how it is adding value to peoples’ lives. For example, conducting an interview with a customer, member or donor about their experiences with an event, benefit or product doesn’t just tell the rest of your community how valuable you are, but shows them with the words of someone who is relateable and has the same goals and needs as them.

Visuals

Visuals, like photos or infographics, can drive the value point home to many members of your community. Visuals are engaging and help put meaning to the words and phrases people hear over and over again.

Infographics are great tools to use when you have a lot of nifty data that proves your value, but you don’t exactly know how to present it to your community. Data is powerful, as many of your members, customers or donors want to quantify how your organization is of value to them. Instead of running through a list of numbers, infographics make these figures visual and engaging. For example, if you want to show how much a professional will save as a member as opposed to a non-member, charting it out with an infographic will draw the attention of individuals and make it easier for them to see your organization’s value without having to wade through long lines of text or large strings of calculations.

Photos can also act a way to highlight how your community’s contributions have resulted in something concrete and valuable. Posting albums to Facebook, images to Pinterest or snapshots on Instagram allows people to see what they getting for their money or time. For example, posting photos of your organization’s trip to build a school in a foreign country or deliver products to a local hospital gives donors a clear vision of how they are helping and where their investment is going. It also allows them to comment on and share in the experience even when they are not physically there, which also provides value.

Videos

Videos are to pictures what blogs are to words; they offer organization’s a platform to deliver more in-depth explanations and bring smaller chunks of information to life. This allows you to tell the story of your organization’s value in a more useful and engaging way.

We have explained in-depth about the advantages that how-to videos can give your organization when providing and explaining value for your community. Along with how-tos, short video interviews with members or staff showcase your organization in action, gives a look at the effectiveness of your products/services and highlights the work being done by staff or volunteers to make your organization the best it can be. For example, making a short video of a “day in the life” of a staff member shows your community how your organization is striving every day to make their lives better. The personal angle, along with engaging visuals and relevant detail helps your community get a better perspective on the value your organization provides.

Shorter snippets, such as the 6-second Vine videos, can also be used by association, non-profits and small businesses to show value. While these videos don’t necessarily give your community a lot of detail and information, they act as a teaser and provide your audience a sense of potential for value. For example, if your small business is having a sale, a Vine or Instagram video of some of the merchandise on sale will pique the interest of your audience and show them the potential value of their visit.

Seven Deadly Sins of Starting a Social Media Account

Social media networks make it easy to sign up and create an account. It’s almost a little too easy.

In about 10 minutes, give or take a few, any organization can set up an account on a platform like Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest and be ready to increase engagement and awareness. However, the ease with which one can create an account can lead people to fall into temptation.

We’ve outlined seven of these social media start-up sins and how to steer clear of these misdeeds.

Lust

When your association, non-profit or small business starts a social media account, it can fall in the trap of lusting after an unrealistic return on investment right away. And by an unrealistic ROI, we mean a financial ROI.

Don’t focus on monetization or financial stats at the beginning. It’s important to keep track of these figures, such as cost-per-impression, but don’t use them as a measuring stick of the account’s success. In other words, stay away from chasing profits and large returns because you’ll just be disappointed.

Rather than focus on a financial ROI at the outset, focus on social ROI. Social ROI is all about calculating how many relationships you have built and how much awareness you have generated. Keep track of the demographics of your community (such as followers) and make sure they align with your target audience. Measure how many interactions you have received (such as retweets) and how many good conversations have come from them.

Gluttony

Being gluttonous means consuming too much and living in excess in hope of attaining happiness, power or fame. This is as dangerous when starting a social media account as it is when standing in line at a buffet.

It’s important to know that being successful on any social media platform takes time. Don’t expect to get lots of followers, likes or subscribers right away. For example, stay away from following a large group of people on Twitter right away just to gain an equally large amount of followers. This sort of activity just means your numbers are inflated and gives you only the appearance of success.

The better strategy is to make connections slowly and integrate yourself into communities in which you can connect with your target demographics and provide value. Gaining a reputation for value, credibility and engaging content takes time, both on and offline. Slow down, focus on quality and you will see for triumphs than trails.

Greed

It’s not hard to get greedy when starting out on any social media. It’s important to connect with others and remember that sharing the wealth is one of the key reasons social media has become a popular marketing and awareness tool.

When sharing content on social media, ensure that you are giving others credit. Mention the original authors or those who posted the content before you did. This is how you build trust and relationships online. It’s also essential to use the sharing tools provided by all social media platforms, such as established hashtags or LinkedIn Groups. Stay away creating your own groups, hashtags, etc when you are just starting out just because you want all the attention on your association/non-profit/small business. Use the well-worn paths available online and your account will grow and flourish.

Sloth

Sloth doesn’t get as much play in pop culture as lust or greed, but it’s just as dangerous to those organizations that are looking to build a new social media account.

One of the worst elements of sloth is that it is so apparent. When an organization is lazy on social media, it shows and it drives people away. Being lazy online means not completing your profile, not posting consistently and failing to ensure all the little details are taken care of, such as making sure your photos are the right size or the spelling and grammar are correct. However, laziness doesn’t start, or stop, at the little things. Being lazy also means not having a plan before starting on social media. This includes a plan on who you’re going to connect with, what content you’re going to share and how you’re going to measure success.

Combating sloth is about attention to detail, time management and patience. Slow down and double check every detail before making your profile live. Run it by colleagues, board members and volunteers to ensure you have thought of everything. Draft up a plan and make sure you have smaller benchmarks that can be met along the way, such as a content calendar.

Wrath

Wrath leads to knee-jerk reactions, the kind of reactions that could harm a social media account beyond repair and damage an organization’s reputation. Wrath could even stop a successful social media account before it even gets started.

Wrath leads people to become too closely guarded. Don’t let this feeling reach your social media accounts. Avoid making your account too private, such as locking a Twitter account or creating a hidden Pinterest board. The main goal of using social media is to grow awareness and engagement and you can’t do this by being too exclusive. Invite everybody to participate, even non-members/non-customers, and you’ll get much closer to endearing yourself to these groups.

Another part of controlling wrath is recognizing how to handle criticism. It’s important not to get angry or vindictive when handling negative comments on your social media accounts. Handle criticism with patience, information and great customer service and that it what your organization will be known for.

Envy

Envy is one of the deadly sins that prevent your association/non-profit/small business from being who it really is and achieving its goals. Envy forces you to plagiarize the work of others and miss out on some of the greatest opportunities that starting a social media account offers.

It’s great to see what strategies work for others, such as what profile designs look great and what hashtags people use, but it’s crucial to recognize there is a line between being a smart strategist and a copy-cat. Combine tried and tested strategies with elements from your own brand. Develop your own voice on social media. This will differentiate your organization from others and raise you above the rest.

Pride

Pride is probably one of the most dangerous and common sins that organizations fall into when starting a social media account. Pride blinds people and causes them to miss the necessary steps that are required to create a successful online network.

One of the consequences of pride is posting too often about yourself/your organization. Having a strategy that consists, in large part, of posting about promotions, services, products, etc., that your organization provides will offer little value to those you’re trying to connect with and will give them little incentive to be a part of your online community.

Instead of being vain, recognize that sharing content, joining chats and having fun is an important part of your overall strategy. Highlighting content from others will allow you to engage key influencers and be active in conversations. Being a part of a community, and not the king of that community, is what social media is all about.

How Managing a Social Media Account is Like Going to the Gym

Being fit is a big business these days. There are gyms on every other corner and home fitness programs are becoming commonplace in many a basement.

There’s plenty that a social media manager can learn about this weighty trend (excuse the pun). Managing an organization’s Twitter account, Facebook page, YouTube channel or any other social network can be a lot like lifting weights and putting in hours on the treadmill. So if you are feeling guilty about skipping your workout today, sit back and at least read about some exercise.

Stretch First

It’s always a good idea to stretch before doing any kind of physical activity; your body will thank you tomorrow morning. Preparation is also important in the social media world and when managing your account.

Before you start (or re-start) your organization on a social media platform, it’s important to do some homework. You need to know which platform is best for your association, non-profit or small business and which audience you’re trying to target. Knowing the goals you want to achieve is also crucial to being successful on any platform, as is drawing up a design plan for your new account.

The planning isn’t done when the social media account goes live. It’s crucial to plan your social media strategy on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Building a content calendar is a helpful tool in preparing for the week or month ahead and ensuring that your account is engaging and efficient. It’s a win/win for both your organization and its community.

Don’t Overwork Your Muscles

Every exercise guru knows that rest is just as important as being active in the world of fitness. It’s never a bright idea to work the same muscle over and over again, every day, because the muscles cannot recover fast enough. It becomes counterproductive.

Social media is similar in that posting about the same issue or topic too frequently will drive people away. For example, if your association, non-profit or small business tweets about itself and a great benefit/cause/promotion twice a day, every day, people will find little value in following the account and will stay away. Remember to provide diverse, but relevant content to your network to keep them engaged and coming back for more.

You will also have to think about how often your organization posts in general. Posting too frequently can leave your community feeling overwhelmed, but not posting enough can make your desired audience forget about you entirely. Experiment with posting frequency, analyze the data and set yourself a schedule you can follow.

No Pain, No Gain

The old adage, no pain, no gain, has more than a little truth to it when you’re in the gym. When you’re a little sore, it usually means that you’ve done something right and you can build on that feeling. Going through some tough times is also normal on social media.

You’re probably going to run into a little pain when managing an organization’s social media account; i.e. some criticism or negative reaction. This is normal and can even be advantageous. As a public and engaging media, social networks open your organization up to scrutiny and criticism. Some people may shy away from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or any other platform because of this inevitability. But there are many steps you can take to handle the odd negative interaction.

One of the most crucial steps you can take to combat criticism is to turn a negative into a positive. Use criticism to improve your services and gain trust from members/non-members, customer/potential customers and donors/potential donors. This will help your organization grow and be stronger.

Have a Spotter

A spotter is a teammate, a coach and a cheerleader rolled into one. He/she is someone who can help you through a workout and make sure you don’t get hurt when you’re lifting weights. Having a similar people at your organization or on social media will give your online efforts a boost.

We’ve covered the importance of having a content calendar, but we haven’t mentioned the need to get feedback on this plan and any other content you share. Getting input from colleagues or staff on your content calendar, blog, YouTube video or other content will expose you to new perspectives and help you catch any mistakes or omissions. Getting your staff/board/donors to participate on social media will also help make your accounts strong.

One of the most important goals of social media is to engage with your target audience. When you interact with your audience, you’re more likely to make a lasting connection that results in a monetary investment. Find out which content is most valuable to your audience and connect with people on a regular basis and they will become your cheerleader both online and offline.

Cool Downs are Important

It’s not a bright idea to go straight from the gym to your car to your couch. You need to do some cool down exercises to help your muscles recover and lower your heartbeat. A cool down is also important when managing a social media account.

A cool down in social media language means collecting the data from your efforts and analyzing it to create a better strategy moving forward. It is essential to track your progress on social media and gather as much data as you can. When analyzing this data later (at the end of the month, the quarter or the year), look at which content provided the most value and seek to increase the frequency in which you post this kind of content.

Knowing which data is most important is also a key factor in ‘cooling down’. There are a few key stats that all organizations should be paying attention to and which can tell you a lot about how your social media platforms are doing.

Three Key Takeaways

– Have a plan for your social media account. This will help you be engaging and relevant and guard against too much repetition in your content.

– Get feedback from colleagues and encourage participation on social media from inside and outside the office.

– Take some time to analyze your strengths and weaknesses on social media and don’t be afraid of a little criticism; it can be turned into an opportunity for your organization to grow.

How Often Should Your Non-profit/Association Be Posting On Social Media?

Posting on social media can sometimes feel like driving on an icy road; if you veer too far to one side, you’ll skid off the path and into the ditch. If your organization posts too little, the account will become irrelevant and people will lose interest. If you share too much content, people will likely feel overwhelmed and annoyed and will probably unfollow or unlike your account (or the equivalent).

It’s difficult to gauge how often your non-profit or association should be posting on social media. It varies with the platform, the audience and what your organization’s wants to achieve. While one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to frequency of posting, we’ve put together a guideline to help you and your non-profit out.

Facebook: 5-10 per week

This may seem low, especially because other sources suggest anywhere from 14 to 25 posts per week, but fewer posts are often better for non-profits and associations because of their audiences.

Facebook is a more private platform than, for example, Twitter and YouTube. Your followers are often restricted to those who are truly invested or engaged in what your organization works towards, such as members or donors. Fewer posts allow your organization to highlight the things that are important to this very defined audience, like highlighting a new initiative, member benefit, event or member accomplishment. Limiting the number of posts to 10 or fewer per week helps keep interest and engagement high. When you’re only providing content that appeals to your target audience, instead of posting simply because you want to meet a weekly quota, people are less likely to scroll past your name on their newsfeed because they realize there is value in every post.

Twitter: 3-8 times per day

Twitter is a different beast than Facebook. It’s more public (anyone can see your tweets) and tweets tend to be shorter and more conversational. Twitter is also a more common place for people to go to get information and content, as opposed to the more social platform that is Facebook. All this combines to make it beneficial to tweet more often.

Twitter and hashtag feeds fill up fast and your organization has to complete will thousands of other pieces of content that is flying past your target audience’s eyes. Tweeting more often helps get your content recognized. Tweeting 3-8 times per day also helps your organization cover a variety of different areas and issues that might appeal to your members, including relevant articles, photos, organization-specific news, industry updates and conversation starters. If you’re not providing value on Twitter, followers will often unfollow your account, as there are many other sources available. However, posting too much may push your connections to use the Mute button. Tweeting 3-8 times per day is often a happy medium.

Blogging: 3-8 times per month

A blog is like a newspaper, but more people with special interests. If you picked up the Saturday issue of the newspaper, expecting a nice, relaxing and informative read and instead saw last week’s articles, you might be a little ticked. The same is true of a blog.

Depending on your industry and the resources at your disposal, a blog should be updates at least once a week, or ideally 3-8 times per month for non-profits/associations. The purpose of a blog is to give your readers an engaging and informative forum to learn and get caught up on news, trends and tips. But it’s also a platform that establishes your organization as the “expert” in an industry and drives traffic to your website. If your blog is not being published consistently, people will lose faith in the “expert” moniker and will stop typing your website into the search bar, directing their valuable time to other sources.

Pinterest: N/A

Pinterest is a tricky platform to declare an exact range of frequency for your organization to post, but the situation can be viewed through two lenses; the goal of Pinterest is mainly to drive traffic to websites and the social network is similar to a combination of Twitter and blogs.

The first lens we’re viewing Pinterest through (the goals is to drive traffic), helps you determines the frequency with which to post original pins. Find out which websites or web pages you want to drive traffic to and post accordingly. For instance, if you are a Business Improvement Area (BIA) and want to highlight members, it might be a good idea to pin 2-3 times per day to cover different interests and drive traffic to your members’ pages. If you are an organization who is raising money for a cause, posting original pins 2-3 times per week may be good to keep interest high, but not reuse the same stories, stats or articles.

The second lens (Pinterest is a combo of Twitter and blogging) helps you decide how often to re-pin posts. Pinterest is very public and updates frequently (like Twitter), but is also a platform that encourages regular viewing of certain boards (like blogging). Make sure to pin enough (1-3 times per day) so that your content is fresh, engaging and relevant for loyal visitors.

YouTube: 1-4 times per month

YouTube is a platform that is often used together with other social media networks, which means that videos are usually seen on blogs, websites, Facebook or Twitter. This unique trait is part of the reason its frequency is 1-4 times per month.

YouTube can often be thought of as an addition to other platforms’ editorial plans. For example, one video showcasing a member/donor per week can be slotted into an organization’s Twitter calendar for a particular month. Since YouTube videos usually act as a supplement to other platforms for non-profits and associations, be careful not to overdue the frequency with which you post videos. Posting 1-4 times per month will keep videos in your content calendar and your YouTube channel from becoming stale.

Instagram: 1-4 times per day

Instagram is as close to a purely visual platform as you can get with the big social media networks. Pictures are treated differently than words, which is why the frequency of posting is higher for Instagram than most other platforms.

Pictures take less time to appreciate than words. Instagram’s “liking” process is also fairly quick (a tap on the screen means you’re a fan of the photo). These two elements add up to Instagram users checking and scrolling through posts at a fast and furious pace. To keep relevant, engaging and in front of people’s eyes, posting frequently to Instagram is a must for any association or non-profit who chooses to use this platform. A word of warning to any organizations thinking of using Instagram; don’t start an account if you don’t have a daily source of visual, because without this well to draw on, your followers will forget you pretty fast.

LinkedIn: 2-3 times per week

LinkedIn, like every other platform on this list, has a specific purpose that determines how frequently your organization should post on it. LinkedIn is an association’s dream platform as it fulfills a primary goal of an organization; offering professional development to members. If your association chooses to invest resources in LinkedIn, a frequent and consistent approach to posting should be taken.

LinkedIn offers an opportunity to appeal to the professional side of your connections. Posting articles, conversation points, job openings and similar content can be done multiple times a week to keep members engaged and give them a chance to get involved, learn or contribute to a discussion and keep up with the latest trends and techniques that allow them to do their job better. LinkedIn, much like a blog, will allow your organization to be known as an expert and a great forum to go to when someone wants to connect with like-minded individuals. If you are not consistent, the forum will go into disuse and lose all effectiveness, but posting too often may make people overwhelmed and unwilling to contribute. Posting 2-3 times per week should provide a great balance.

Other Things to Consider

Determining the frequency with which your organization should post on different social media sites is not an exact science, but it is a type of science. The advice in the paragraphs above is simply a guide. The best path for your organization to travel is to experiment with different frequencies of posting, collect the data, analyze it and see which strategy turns out the most favourable results.

You will also have to be flexible with your frequency of posting. The number of times you tweet or post to Facebook, Instagram, etc. will change depending on the exceptional circumstances of your non-profit/association. For instance, you will probably tweet more when your association is hosting its annual conference or if your charity is having a fundraising event.

The key to finding the best frequency with which to post is to stay organized, stay flexible and stay informed. Using these tools, you’ll social media platforms will go from good to great in no time.

The Issues That Matter Most To Association Executives And How Social Media Can Help

The one issue that matters to association leaders, above all else, is lobbying and advocacy, according to a study by Association Adviser and Naylor LLC.

Informing the government, media and general public about an industry and its members mattered more to association leaders than any other duty, ahead of such topics as member news, industry best practices and networking, in the survey of 910 executives.

While the responses to the survey showed a wide range, all the top issues had one element in common; they can be addressed, in part, with a great social media strategy.

We took a look at the top five most important topics for association leaders and how social media can give each area a boost.

Lobbying and Advocacy

The Naylor reports explains the ascendancy of the issue of lobbying and advocacy like so, “…it’s because there’s a great deal of ‘misinformation—even fabricated information’ presented to legislators that it can easily turn into bad legislation. ‘This increases costs to consumers…'”

We detailed how social media can help the lobbying and advocacy efforts of associations a couple months ago, so we’ll highlight some of the key takeaways from the post that address how being social can help dispel myths and aid advocacy.

Social media platforms, like Twitter or Facebook, make it easier for your association to stay on top of all the latest news, trends and comments. Having a strong presence on these platforms allows your association to have a conversation about falsehoods or misinformation that may pop up online. Blogs, YouTube, Twitter and other platforms can also act a rallying point for members to join an advocacy campaign by your association and a place to shine the spotlight on member achievement where thousands of people are paying attention.

And when a city, a country or the world takes notice, so too, do politicians.

How-To/Best Practices

How-To/Best Practices came second on Naylor’s list, just slightly behind advocacy and lobbying. Just like the previous section, we’ve covered how social media can help you create and promote a how-to for members. Here are some of the finer points of our explanation:

Social media is a storyteller’s dream and that’s what a how-to is all about. If you can tell a great story, explaining how to go about an activity in the best way can be engaging for members. A video on YouTube or an infographic tacked onto Pinterest, a blog, Twitter or a website will give your members a visual to go along with your story.

Social media also provides members a place to ask questions about the how-to or interact with experts in the field who have published an article about best practices. Sometimes an article, video or explanation is not enough, but social media is there to save the day and give members the more in-depth knowledge they need and want. Host a Twitter chat, monitor the comments and plan a follow-up webinar to your how-to/best practices posts.

Industry News/Trends

There’s no denying it; people go online to get most of their news now-in-days. Your association’s members are no exception.

Being online and on social media will help your association connect members to the news and trends that will benefit them in their profession. Like we mentioned earlier, social media is a great way to keep tuned to all the latest news on a particular industry, particularly with tools such as Paper.li and hashtag monitoring. Spreading the word to members takes an engaging tweet and a little digging on which articles are the most timely and helpful.

News comes in all shapes and sizes and so does social media, which makes it a match made in heaven. You can write a blog for more a more in-depth look at news or to promote the latest technological trends, for example, or take to Instagram to document the latest about association programs, services and events in bite-sized chunks. Promoting your association’s magazine or newsletter on social media allows a much wider audience to find value in your organization’s services and makes them more likely to invest in the association in the form of membership.

Career/Professional Development

Think of the career development resources your association offers members and you can probably come up with at least a handful of examples before you finish reading this sentence. Most of them can be promoted and made more accessible through social media.

Events are a hub of learning for members and social media can add a tremendous amount to any conference, meeting or webinar, such as live-tweeting, daily recap blog posts and YouTube interviews with speakers. We’ve also detailed, at length, the newest form of education and career development taking off right now called Meetup and how it could help your association and its members.

Other programs, such as a mentorship initiatives, accreditation courses and awards programs, lend themselves beautifully to the kind of storytelling social media does so well. Tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos and infographics can capture success stories and can make people in the industry aware of the programs when they might otherwise not have known they existed.

Statistics and Data That Help Them Do Their Job Better

Social media is a goldmine of helpful stats and data that help both association leaders and association members do their job better.

Social media provides a wealth of information about an association’s members and non-members and recent developments have made it even easier to access this data. Twitter analytics became open to all Twitter users in the last month and the data to be gleaned from the available numbers could be a game-changer for association leaders. Executives can now measure which issues get the most engagement, which trends members are paying attention to most and what topics are receiving the best response from the general public. And the best part is that it’s free! There are not many resources that are better than Twitter analytics for conducting research into the behaviour, wants and needs of membership.

As for relaying the stats and facts that members want to see, well, we’ll just leave this right here. It about sums up the giant role of social media in presenting the relevant facts to the right audience.

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The most important issues for association leadership are constantly changing, but what will continue to stay the same is social media’s ability to lend a helping. From advocacy to statistics, social networking platforms can bridge the gap between problems and solutions in a cheap, effective way for many an association executive.